Devine looks to provide Costa with a Magic day on the Coast
Australia’s principal racing action today is just 4337 kilometres apart, from the Gold Coast to Perth.
On the Gold Coast a young trainer will look to make a further mark and secure a runner in next Saturday’s $2 million Magic Millions 2YO Classic at the same track. That is Michael Costa with his filly Devine Factor, a $65,000 2018 Magic Millions Gold Coast Yearling purchase from Bowness Stud.
In contrast, in Perth, it will be something of an old(er) master – something of a trainer’s trainer, Lindsey Smith who just might spring an upset with Prize Catch in the Group 2 $500,000 Perth Cup.
Both have a little race history in their favour.
Costa, rather than being wholly condemned to building Devine Factor’s prize-money, might in fact be following the most strategic path given that the past two Magic Millions 2YO Classic winners, the fillies Sunlight and Houtzen, won this race the week before the main event.
Both had also run in Queensland late in December and Devine Factor all but won when she debuted on December 22 at Eagle Farm, finishing a fast closing quarter of a length second to the much spruiked Not A Single Doubt colt Dubious. The 2015 Magic Millions winner Le Chef also followed a very similar path.
The daughter of The Factor (War Front) will certainly relish the extra 100 metres on Saturday as well as the prospect of spirited competition for the lead. She’s also likely to have taken improvement from the first outing given that a hoof abscess had curtailed her preparation after trialling in September.
Costa, one time stable foreman for trainer Kevin Moses, might well be due a major two-year-old winner as he lost Golden Slipper Stakes heroine She Will Reign late in 2016 when he relocated his stable to the Gold Coast.
Smith’s history and that of the Perth Cup (first run in 1887) extends somewhat longer but to focus on more recent results – they reveal that 16 of the past 21 winners have come through the Group 2 Ted Van Heemst Stakes (formerly Cox Stakes) at 2100 metres. Smith’s gelding Prize Catch has the best of the weights among those graduating from that race and his closing splits were sound in a race dominated from the front.
His preparation smacks of a horse peaking for the grand final, a trademark of Smith’s, and he does look to be over the odds.
Prize Catch is a rising six-year-old but his past four runs have been his only tries beyond 1600 metres and he’s responded well which is no shock, as he’s a half brother to the talented Hobart Cup winner Hurdy Gurdy Man. Prize Catch, offered by Amarina Farm, was knocked down to Smith and Boomer Bloodstock for $42,000 at the Inglis Classic Sale.
If there’s a stumbling block it might of course be any one of the five runners sporting Bob Peters’ pink and white silks. Peters has owned seven Perth Cup winners including the Smith trained Crown Prosecutor in 2005.
The former allies, whose partnership in the early 2000’s included a famous victory with Old Comrade (over Northerly) in the 2002 Australian Cup, are now opposed.
Smith, who like John Size worked for Gold Coast trainer Henry Davis in the 1980’s, returned to Flemington in 2004 and won the Victoria Derby with Plastered – the first West Australian horse to do so.
A second Perth Cup win would certainly be a welcome change of luck for Smith, who spent 10 days in hospital with a severely lacerated liver and four broken ribs after he was kicked by a horse last month.
LUCK OF THE IRISH
The TAB’s highest win dividend of the year came very late in the year – with the win of Shanches at Limerick (Ireland) on Boxing Day. She paid $437.70 for a $1 unit from a pool of $768. The race was run at 2.45am our time.
The five-year-old mare, trained by Tony Mullins (brother of Willie), won a 3200 metre Bumper on debut. She started officially at 40/1 in Ireland, was 80/1 on Tab Fixed Odds and 139/1 on Betfair. It was a first official win for jockey Johnny Hurley and the pair landed the prize by a nose.
The TAB’s best punting performance, of the year, surely came from the customer who landed the Melbourne Cup First 4 three times after correctly picking the first four horses across the line STRAIGHT! A $3 spend returned more than $100,000.
The largest exotic bet type returns were the $314,014.30 First 4 on the Thousand Guineas which saw $13 chance Amphitrite beat $101 shot Fundamentalist and hot favourite Smart Melody was out of the picture; and the Quaddie on Memsie Stakes Day that paid $163,549.50, which was way beyond the all-up and, in hindsight, seemed eminently gettable with the winners Native Soldier, Humidor, Ball Of Muscle and Eillicazoom.
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