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‘Rocky Rose’ Sweet Dolly stuns in Calaway Gal

The $1,500 weanling purchase stars on a day when two-year-olds shot to attention

Yesterday’s two-year-old features provided a timely reminder that a good horse can come from anywhere this sales season as juveniles from a variety of backgrounds added black type to their pedigree page in key lead-ups to the Magic Millions 2YO Classic (RL, 1200m) and the Inglis Millennium (RL, 1200m).

The story of $1,500 weanling purchase Sweet Dolly (2 f Real Saga – Sweet Cherub by Canny Lad), the ‘Rocky Rose’, taking out the Calaway Gal Stakes (Listed, 1000m) at Eagle Farm yesterday is already one of the highlights of a two-year-old season that has barely begun, with the Kevin Hansen-trained filly progressing from an arrogant Townsville maiden win at her first outing to a stakes success at start two. 

Named for the 2002 Golden Slipper Stakes (Gr 1, 1200m) winner who won four straight in Brisbane before Christmas in the 2001-02 season, including this race when it was the CE McDougall Stakes, the Calaway Gal is the primary fillies’ lead-up to the $2 million Magic Millions 2YO Classic next month. Regimental Gal (General Nediym), Military Rose (General Nediym) and Away Game (Snitzel) have all won this race en route to Magic Millions glory. 

This year, it was Away Game’s stablemate, Debutant Stakes (Listed, 1000m) winner Fake Love (I Am Invincible), who was sent out as favourite. Sporting the same black, red and grey colours of the Mathiesen family, the Ciaron Maher and David Eustace-trained filly was a significant drifter on track, easing from $2.40 to $3.20 as money flowed for first-starter Summerbeel (Savabeel) and the speedy Rhapsody Rose (Star Witness).

Rockhampton filly Sweet Dolly, meanwhile, was sent out the $6.50 fourth favourite with little respect shown for the strength of that Townsville performance. 

Unlike her first start, where Sweet Dolly naturally found the front under Justin Stanley and kept extending her margin throughout, the baldy-faced filly instead tracked the leaders, with Oriental Princess (Mikki Isle) joined by Rhapsody Rose and Fake Love on the speed.

Fake Love was trapped deep throughout but still loomed up as though she would have the temerity to see off her opponents, with Glen Boss quiet as a church mouse aboard the favourite. Even when he asked her for an effort inside the 200 metres, the big-race rider was still cuddling her enough to ensure that the wide passage did not take its toll in the closing stages.

Meanwhile, Sweet Dolly switched over Fake Love’s heels as Stanley sent her in hot pursuit. Unlike her incredibly professional debut, she wandered about like a drunken sailor, clearly more at home following the rail than chasing a bunny. It was a performance that saw Hansen issued with a warning about her racing manners.

She badly checked Miss In Charge (Hinchinbrook) and, despite Stanley’s efforts to straighten, she got out to the crown of the track inside the 100 metres. However, she continued to chase gamely, making ground even while stumbling all over the track. 

It was inside the final 20 metres, though, that Sweet Dolly seemed to finally grasp the task at hand and she powered through the line to defeat Fake Love by three-quarters of a length, with a long head to Rhapsody Rose in third.

“She’s done so much wrong, especially in the last furlong, and she’s still got home – absolutely brilliant,” a laconic Hansen said with a grin, reflecting on his first stakes win after more than 40 years as a trainer. 

“She’s done a mighty job the last fortnight. She’s trialled at Rocky on the Monday, raced at Townsville on the Saturday and she blew them away up there. We weren’t even going to come here, but she pulled up that well and we pulled a blood from her and it was spot on, so we said, ‘We’re off to Brisbane.’”

Purchased by Michelle Walker for $1,500 from the 2018 Magic Millions National Weanling Sale out of the Raheen Stud draft, Sweet Dolly is the seventh stakes winner by former Glenlogan Park, Eureka Stud and Palm Valley Thoroughbreds stallion Real Saga (Tale Of The Cat). Real Saga died in February last year.

With yesterday’s win, Sweet Dolly became the first stakes winner for her dam Sweet Cherub (Canny Lad), a two-time Ipswich winner who has produced six foals to race; five of them have won.

Sweet Cherub is a half-sister to the Group 3-placed Beatniks (Haradasun), while second dam Hippy (King Of Kings) is a half-sister to stakes winner Love And Money (Secret Savings). Further back, the family includes Group 1 placegetters The Cloisters (Godswalk), My Middi (Belong To Me) and Star Chick (Stunning).

“Shelly bought her as a weanling at the Magic Millions and she showed ability right from day one,” Hansen admitted. “I’ve known she was good for a fair while, about six months ago when I first started putting her through jump-outs and all that, she showed a lot.”

As a Magic Millions National Weanling Sale purchase, Sweet Dolly is ineligible for the Magic Millions 2YO Classic and will instead go for a spell.

“She’s not paid up for the Magic Millions but never mind,” Hansen said. “She can go to the paddock now and have a decent spell. She’s a serious little racehorse.”

Added Walker: “We’ll be back next year.”

Sweet Cherub, who remains among the Raheen Stud broodmare band, foaled a Heroic Valour (Fastnet Rock) filly on September 30.

The boys’ equivalent, the Phelan Ready Stakes (Listed, 1000m), was taken out by the Toby and Trent Edmonds-prepared Alpine Edge (2 c Better Than Ready – Freezethemillions by Freeze), who just lasted to take out the feature at his first start.

Sent out the $4 second favourite behind the twice-raced Baby Wong (Press Statement), Alpine Edge showed natural speed to lead early under Robbie Fradd. Held together until the 250-metre mark, the colt showed plenty of tenacity to hold off the surge of another debutant, Cochrane (Spirit Of Boom), to win by a short head.

Unlike Sweet Dolly, Alpine Edge is likely to chase the Phelan Ready-Magic Millions double which has only been achieved once – by inaugural Classic winner Snippets (Lunchtime), when the Phelan Ready was the JF Meynink Stakes.

His winning time of 58.67 seconds was 0.12 seconds faster than the fillies and saw him wound into the fourth line of betting at $15 for the Magic Millions 2YO Classic.

“He was very soft coming into today,” Trent Edmonds said. “We didn’t expect to lead but the favourite was tardy away. He was so relaxed before the race I said to his strapper you better take him for a walk and just check that he’s breathing. 

“I think we will follow what is now the tried-and-true path and start the week before the Magic Millions and then back up.”

The 1100-metre Gold Coast race a week out from the Magic Millions 2YO Classic had been won by four of the last six winners of the rich feature, with Exhilarates (Snitzel), Sunlight (Zoustar), Houtzen (I Am Invincible) and Le Chef (Exceed And Excel) completing the double. 

As a result, 2020 saw the introduction of the Aquis Gold Nugget (1100m) for the colts and geldings and the Aquis Gold Pearl (1100m) for the fillies, with both races again to be held in 2021.

A $160,000 purchase from this year’s Magic Millions Gold Coast Yearling Sale out of the Yarramalong Park draft, Alpine Edge is the third foal to race – and the second winner – out of the Listed-placed Freezethemillions (Freeze).

He also became the fourth individual stakes winner for Better Than Ready (More Than Ready), who stood at Lyndhurst Stud this season for $33,000 (inc GST).


Acrobat soars in breathtaking Nursery debut

While the Magic Millions 2YO Classic was the focus in Queensland, the path to the Inglis equivalent, the $2 million Inglis Millennium on February 6, also began yesterday with the Inglis Nursery (RL, 1000m) at Randwick.

If anything, the Nursery has proven a more significant launching pad than the Millennium or its predecessor, the Inglis Classic, in recent years with winners including two Golden Slipper victors, Mossfun (Mossman) and She Will Reign (Manhattan Rain), Blue Diamond Stakes (Gr 1, 1200m) hero Extreme Choice (Not A Single Doubt) and the Group 1-placed Pane In The Glass (Testa Rossa), Odyssey Moon (Snitzel) and Wild Ruler (Snitzel).

That could be the case again this season after Acrobat (2 c ex Hips Don’t Lie by Stravinsky) dazzled with a debut for the ages for Maher and Eustace. It was the stable’s fourth two-year-old stakes winner already this season, joining Enthaar (Written Tycoon), Fake Love and Sneaky Five (Fastnet Rock), with Enthaar and Acrobat now holding the first two spots in Golden Slipper betting.

The Coolmore-raced colt, who was offered with a $1 million reserve at this year’s Inglis Australian Easter Yearling Sale but passed in $50,000 shy of that figure, had been the subject of significant support all week. He ended up starting $4.60 third favourite, behind the heavily-backed Ashema (I Am Invincible) and Overmann (Hinchinbrook). All three were making their first raceday appearance.

Ridden with urgency early by James McDonald, the bay raced outside the Annabel Neasham-trained Ashema, with the pair racing clear topping the Randwick rise. When asked for an effort, though, Acrobat proved clearly superior, racing clear for a two-and-a-quarter-length win over the filly, with a further two and a half lengths to Mission Value (Capitalist) in third.

The final time of 56.02 seconds was a new race record, 0.83 seconds quicker than Extreme Choice’s previous mark, while it was only 0.71 seconds outside Redzel’s (Snitzel) course record.

“With a colt like that, you have to dream about Golden Slippers and the Inglis Millennium seems a huge and logical option along the way because prize-money counts for a lot,’’ part-owner James Bester said, with the Inglis Millennium to count towards the Golden Slipper order of entry for the first time.

“The Millennium has already proved itself a top-class race so the Millennium en route to the Slipper would be the obvious and logical target now. 

“For such a beautiful-looking animal that is so well-bred, today is a big result.

“To win a stakes race first start with a pedigree and physique that this colt has, a lot of good horses have won this race in Extreme Choice, She Will Reign, Mossfun, Wild Ruler, we’re very excited to be in that bracket now and hopefully we’re the next big thing.’’

Acrobat is the seventh foal to race – and the third stakes winner – out of Hips Don’t Lie (Stravinsky), who herself was a talented juvenile, winning the Reisling Stakes (Gr 2, 1200m), the Ottawa Stakes (Listed, 1000m) and the Talindert Stakes (Listed, 1100m).

Ennis Hill (Fastnet Rock) was also a two-year-old stakes winner for Hips Don’t Lie, taking the Chairman’s Stakes (Gr 3, 1000m) at Caulfield, while Lake Geneva (Fastnet Rock) – whose stakes win came at three in the William Crockett Stakes (Listed, 1200m) – was also a talented youngster, finishing third in both the Blue Diamond Stakes and the Golden Slipper.

Hips Don’t Lie’s half-sister Acquired (O’Reilly), a Group 2 placegetter, has produced Group 2 winner Splintex (Snitzel) and Invictus Salute (Exceed And Excel), who recently ended her career by winning the Starlight Stakes (Listed, 1100m) at Rosehill.

It was the first of two winners for the afternoon for Hips Don’t Lie as, exactly an hour after Acrobat flew, his brother Memphis Rock took the Prince Of Penzance Plate (1200m) at Flemington. Coolmore will offer the half-sister to Memphis Rock and Acrobat, by I Am Invincible (Invincible Spirit), at next year’s Inglis Australian Easter Yearling Sale.

Other promising juveniles to step out and win on debut yesterday included Te Akau Racing’s Sword Of State (Snitzel) at Te Rapa, blueblood Yulong Turbo (Written Tycoon) for Lindsay Park at Morphettville and Profiteer (Capitalist), trained by Mick Price and Michael Kent Jnr, who impressed at Flemington.

Profiteer, the second winner for his first season sire Capitalist (Written Tycoon), showed a potent mix of speed and professionalism to race clear for a two-and-three-quarter-length success. He stopped the clock in 1:02.80, which was just 0.65 seconds outside the track record set by Loveyamadly (Bel Esprit) in 2013.

Purchased for $165,000 from Newgate Farm’s draft at this year’s Inglis Classic Yearling Sale in Sydney, Profiteer is the first foal to race out of the Group 3-placed Athena Lass (Snitzel), while third dam Danglissa (Danzero) won the Flight Stakes (Gr 1, 1600m).

As an Inglis graduate, the Inglis Millennium remains a possibility, while the Blue Diamond Stakes at his home track of Caulfield also looms large.

“It’s a new race, the Millennium, which you have to consider when you have these sort of horses,” Kent told “It doesn’t make him a stallion but the prize-money is huge. Maybe you can do both, but we’ll just see.

“He is a bonafide two-year-old type. He’s like his father. He’s not too big, he’s precocious, he’s neat and he’s got a beautiful action. He really covers the ground. He’s got good gate speed, he can go at a quick tempo and then find again.

“From day one we knew he was a smart colt the way he could gallop but to find it under race pressure was very pleasing today.

“He’s in our top three (two-year-olds) at this stage. Whether he ends up being the best horse, time will tell but he’s definitely the most precocious. We’ll just get him home and make sure his shins and knees are OK, but he’s a very sound horse.”


Greysful Glamour stars in Villiers

A start in the Doncaster Mile (Gr 1, 1600m) remains up in the air for Greysful Glamour (5 m Stratum – Rippled by Dalakhani), even after the bonny mare secured her spot in the historic handicap with her win in the Villiers Stakes (Gr 2, 1600m) at Randwick yesterday.

Ridden with aplomb by Rachel King in her favoured front-running role, the Mark Newnham-trained Greysful Glamour kicked clear to score by a long neck to Best Of Days (Azamour) in second with his stablemate Criaderas (Lonhro) producing a phenomenal effort from last to finish a half-length from the winner. It was a second straight win in the race for rider and trainer, who combined last year to take the Villiers with Quackerjack (Not A Single Doubt).

“She has got the biggest heart of any horse I’ve ridden,” King said. “I might have ridden classier horses and Mark might have trained better horses but everyone has a soft spot for her.

“Everyone in the stable loves her and even my parents in England follow her. My mum says Greysful Glamour is her favourite horse. They will be up watching the race back home so it’s a big thrill.”

It was a sixth win for Greysful Glamour and the first time she has ever put two consecutive victories together, having won the ATC Cup (Listed, 2000m) at her most recent outing. It was the latest chapter of a fascinating career that has seen her contest stakes races at two, Group 1-placed in the VRC Oaks (Gr 1, 2500m) at three, a Group 3 winner at 1400 metres at four and then proving her hardiness at five.

“She’s an all-time favourite,” Newnham said. “She raced as an early two-year-old, she placed in the Oaks in Melbourne, which got us our first Melbourne carnival runner, and Darby Racing have supported me from the start. It’s a good win all round, it was pretty to watch.

“She is just a lovely, kind mare, then you get her out there and she gets a bit of killer in her.”

For a decade, victory in the Villiers has offered ballot exemption for the $3 million Doncaster Mile in April. 

The 2015 Villiers winner Happy Clapper (Teofilo) came back to finish second to the great Winx (Street Cry) in the Doncaster in 2016, finishing second in 2017 before finally taking the spoils in 2018. His Villiers successor, Sense Of Occasion (Street Sense), finished third in the 2017 Doncaster.

Whether Greysful Glamour chases the rich feature depends on whether she gets her favoured firmer surface or not. Only once since 2006 has the Doncaster Mile been contested on a track rated good, while it has been a heavy track on six occasions.

“Now she’s guaranteed a start we can at least aim that way but with her you have to make some exceptions for the weather,” Newnham said. “I love the traditional races, especially at Randwick. I’ve spent my whole working life at Randwick so any win here is special but to win a good Randwick mile like the Villiers makes it more special.”

Next up could be the Summer Cup (Gr 3, 2000m) on Boxing Day, although Newnham said he would wait to see how she came out of yesterday’s race.

A $90,000 Inglis Australian Easter Yearling Sale purchase by Darby Racing in 2017, the grey mare has now earned $804,255, having won six of her 33 starts.