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Racing this week was completely dominated on Saturday with a couple of breathtaking wins from two high class gallopers in search of an Everest slot. Here is this weeks edition of ‘The Good, The Bad and The Ugly’.


Vega Magic or Nature Strip…or both?

That is the $13 Million question to be answered soon. Both horses, most notably Vega Magic, are looking to gain one of three remaining slots for The Everest. Vega Magic put his cards on the table with the win of the day in the Bletchingly, being the only leader to face the headwind and kick on to score, and did it whilst pulling hard. Nature Strip then said “Hold my beer” when he lit up the Morphettville turf in winning the Lightning and belting a top class juvenile in Sunlight. Vega Magic is almost certain to get a slot off the back of that performance. Personally, I don’t think Nature Strip would win the race, but he’s comfortably in the top 12 sprinters Australia has to offer right now.

Chautauqua up to his old tricks

It was all sunshine and lollipops after he jumped away cleanly in the Flemington jump out. But on Monday morning, Chautauqua was up to no good once again, failing to jump from the barriers in a Rosehill trial. He now has to trial and jump twice cleanly before being allowed to race again. The majority of punters think he’s in the twilight of his career, he’s won close to $9 Million, time to pull up stumps. But main part owner Rupert Leigh is intending to continue on the process of hopefully bringing him back to the races.

Triple Crown winner retired

He only raced six times, but Justify was the most popular horse in world racing after completing the Triple Crown last month. The three year old has now been retired due to fluid in an ankle, which left trainer Bob Baffert not 100% confident he could get the horse back to full health and fitness in time for the Travers en route to the Breeders Cup. He came the first horse since Apollo in 1882 to capture the Kentucky Derby after not racing as a 2YO.


It was a great pleasure on Saturday to see two stars at their brilliant best within the space of minutes. Vega Magic put his cards on the table for The Everest with a world class win in the Bletchingly. Minutes later, Nature Strip pulled hard outside Sunlight yet made the top class juvenile look like a country hack with a win of such dominance that would have made Winx jealous. Will both horses get a slot in The Everest? Time will tell, but hopefully they both do to add some proper class and form to the $13 Million contest.


I think we’ll see Maid Of Heaven in an Oaks race whether it be in the Spring or the Autumn. Mark Newnham trains this daughter of Smart Missile, who debuted on Wednesday at Canterbury on a day where it was a clear advantage to be on the rail and/or near the speed. She got back to near last in the run and was only really clear the last 100m. Gee she lengthened nicely to run fourth. She’ll be winning races and wouldn’t shock me if she was to measure up in an Oaks with time.


Could go with the Joe The Goose and Sam Weatherley on Kaonic, but I want to go back to Tuesday at Albury and Racha Cuneen on Shoplifter. Drew the widest gate and was eased back to near last. Cuneen could have easily peeled the widest with clear, but would have conceded several lengths, so he stayed between runners, poked his way through and once clear air did come nearer the inside, he finished off powerfully to win, with the ride winning the race. Cuneen has been a gun in NZ for a while now. Hopefully we see more of him in Australia.


Think there are a few jocks who would like their time over again after the penultimate from Rosehill on Saturday. Sectionals wise, they didn’t go hard, but to the eye, they just overdid it with the perceived bias towards the inside/on speed. First four out were four of the last five to greet the judge. Played perfectly into the hands of Eusebio.


If you’re looking for a couple of sleepers for the future, definitely follow up on Salsonic and Emperor’s Way from the Winter Challenge. Both were back in a race dominated by those on speed/rail so Emperor’s Way from the back out wide was quite good. Salsonic was off the bit before the turn but loved the way he closed off. Both ran sub 34 for the final 600m. That’s two good runs from Emperor’s Way. He’s ready. Salsonic perhaps one more but he’s in for a good prep. From Caulfield, I made Mariquita a blackbooker after her resumption and she ran up to the mark with a closing second to Chiavari, just running out of puff late. Up to 1400m next time, she’ll go close to winning in similar grade.


He’s burning holes in the pockets ala Mantastic, but Call Me Handsome is just racing so well. He deserves a win and it will come soon. Just caught wide again and had to do the work to get to the leaders. Got there, looked home, but was gathered in late by two runners who had easier runs out the back. His time will come…I hope.


He’s shown glimpses of talent, but Goodfella just can’t do it on a consistent basis. Yes, he was part of the speed battle on Saturday, but gee he gave in pretty quick for a horse who has been proven at a high level and only six months ago ran second to Pierata. Races will only get harder this time of year so I think steer clear of him unless he finds a weaker race.

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