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Mane Lodge’s Millennium tilt with Beer Baron

Osborne-trained colt a force to be reckoned with in Inglis’ $2 million feature

Country colt Beer Baron (Cosmic Force) will be out to avenge not only his narrow pre-Christmas defeat in Saturday’s $2 million Inglis Millennium (RL, 1100m), but also put to rest ten years of Randwick heartache for bush allrounder Neil Osborne, the talented juvenile’s trainer.

A decade ago, Osborne was at Sydney’s racing headquarters when his brilliant homebred two-year-old speed machine I Am Snippety (I Am Invincible) was highballing in front and being hailed the likely Kindergarten Stakes (Gr 3, 1100m) winner when tragedy struck.

As a result of her fatal injuries, subsequent Golden Rose (Gr 1, 1400m) and Randwick Guineas (Gr 1, 1600m) winner Hallowed Crown (Street Sense) has that Kindergarten Stakes victory on his CV and a career at stud, while Osborne was left to mourn the loss of his brilliant filly.

But fast forward to 2024 and the Osborne-trained Beer Baron is a $26 chance in early Ladbrokes all-in markets for the Inglis Millennium on the back of a monster performance in the $500,000 Inglis Nursery (RL, 1000m) at Randwick on December 9.

Debut Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott-trained Rosehill January 20 winner Fully Lit (Hellbent) is the $3.60 Millennium favourite, ahead of Inglis Nursery scorer Odinson (Night Of Thunder) ($4.50). Rue De Royale (Per Incanto) and Zestiman (Zoustar) are on the next line of betting at $6.

His 50-1 starting price in the Nursery did not reflect the colt’s ability, according to Osborne, and the Sutton-based trainer immediately mapped out an autumn preparation which includes a tilt at Canberra’s Black Opal Stakes (Gr 3, 1200m) on March 10, a race I Am Snippety ran fourth in, prior to spacing her rivals in the 2014 Wellington Boot (1100m).

“His last gallop before the Nursery, I wasn’t 100 per cent happy with. I thought he might have just been on the way to going shin sore or had enough, but having gone that far we went to the race and he performed very well,” the veteran trainer said.

“Prior to that I thought he’d win the race, that’s how well he was going. He has developed a bit. He’s just a lovely animal. You’d reckon he’s a six-year-old gelding. 

“He can fire up down there on Saturday, but when he is in his home surroundings he couldn’t care for anybody or anything.”

Tommy Berry retains the ride on Beer Baron, who is out of Ice Cold Crownie (Beautiful Crown). He is also the first blacktype achiever in four dams, but Osborne says the record of Beer Baron’s mother is deceptive.

“We’ve never had much luck with the mare. I had another horse out of her that Ryan Pendergast at Narrandera broke in for me and he said to me, ‘this horse feels like the horses I was breaking in at Gai’s’ as he used to break in for Gai [Waterhouse],” Mane Lodge principal Osborne said.

“I trialled him [Cracka Crownie] at Canberra one day [in November 2018] and he put his foot in a hole and smashed his sesamoid. He was going to be a freak, too.”

Asked to compare Beer Baron and I Am Snippety, Osborne said: “They’re a bit different. She was just a real busy, fast horse whereas this bloke gives you the indication he’ll probably want a bit more ground.

“She was just so brilliant. She was five in front that day when she broke down.”

One potential hiccup for Beer Baron, who country jockey Billy Owen declared as being “spot on” after a barrier trial win at his home track on January 30, could be that the Goulburn course proper won’t be available for gallops this morning due to heavy rain in recent days.

That said, Osborne remains upbeat about the colt’s chances against some of Australia’s premier stables and highest-priced horses.

“It was fairly impressive, wasn’t it?” he said of Beer Baron’s trial. 

“He did everything we asked him to do and he was probably a little bit more forward than where I thought he would be at that stage.”

Newgate Farm’s Cosmic Force (Deep Field) also has the impressive colt Stay Focused, a dominant debut winner at Geelong on January 6 for trainer Phillip Stokes, heading towards the Blue Diamond Stakes (Gr 1, 1200m), while he has also sired the Karaka Millions 2YO (RL, 1200m) placed Full Force and Queensland winners Devine Force and That’s Interesting.

Passed in at last year’s Inglis Classic and Ready2Race sales with reserves of $100,000 and $120,000 respectively, Beer Baron has so far repaid Osborne’s faith in the well-built colt and the horse’s sire.

In finishing runner-up in the Inglis Nursery, Beer Baron earned $94,000 in prize-money but he also collected a $200,000 Pink Bonus for his connections because he is 75 per cent femaleowned, that being Osborne’s wife Denise.

The couple operate Mane Lodge at Sutton where they run a full service thoroughbred business of agistment while also foaling down their own broodmare band, consigning at weanling and yearling sales as well as training a number of racehorses at the same time.  

“I poke around to find the right horse. I’ve also got a breeding right in Tassort, so I might have pulled the right rein again there and I think the Cosmic Forces will be good horses,” Osborne said. 

“They’re just too good a types not to be.”

Osborne will offer one yearling at Riverside Stables next week, through the Mullaglass Stud draft, being the Cosmic Force half-sister to the stakes-placed Make A Call (Extreme Choice), the $825,000 Inglis Classic sale-topper of 2022.

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