2018 Magic Millions Preview & Betting Tips

January 13, 2018 by Posted in Horse Racing Tips



The Gold Coast plays host to its annual Magic Millions program this Saturday, January 13th, with nine races on the card and more than $10 million prizemoney on offer.

The feature race of the meeting is the Two-Year-Old Classic (Race 8), with a full field of 16 juveniles lining up over 1200m for the best part of $2 million.

The anticipation for this race has been boiling over in recent weeks on the back of some exceptional performances from three horses in particular. But several things can go wrong in races as unpredictable as high-pressure two-year-old races. And this will be high pressure!

Expect the tempo of this to be hot, with some of the fancied market leaders – and speedier commodities – drawn very wide. Ef Troop will jump from barrier 13 after the scratchings of the emergencies, with Sunlight drawn to his immediate inside, so we can expect both to roll across in search of the lead. Secret Lady will start from gate 10, and she only knows one speed out of the barrier, which is fast. There’s a chance Secret Lady finds the rail here, with Sunlight settling to her outside and Ef Troop at risk of being caught three-wide. If that’s the case, we could see Ef Troop push on in search of the lead, so there’s multiple scenarios that are possible based on how the first 200m plays out. That first furlong will be crucial. Jonker will take a sit right behind that speed, along with the likes of Nomothaj, Anthemoessa and Meryl. Outback Barbie and Legislation should find themselves midfield, with the possibility of Quackerjack trying to find cover in the three-wide running line. Fullazzaboot, Bondi and Crockett are all in that same category, while Witherspoon should be ridden quieter with that high pressure up front. Skyray and Whiskey Shooter look the only obvious horses likely to be at the rear of the field.

So as we can see – and as is often the case in two-year-old sprints – plenty of horses have done their racing up on the pace so it’s difficult to try and predict which ones will adopt different tactics here. Again, the first 200m will be key to the shape of the race, but it’s almost certain they’ll go quick.

So, let’s start by trying to separate the top three in the market – Sunlight, Ef Troop and Jonker.

I’ve gone with the Tony McEvoy-trained filly Sunlight on top, and therefore my top selection in the race. She’s promised plenty ever since she stepped out at the trials back in September. She started favourite in a good juvenile race at Flemington in October, where she didn’t quite deliver on the hype, finishing 3rd. Jockey Luke Currie has said publicly he was disappointed with her performance that day, but they put her away for a short spell before she once again stepped out at the trials and caught the eye. What she produced on her first day back at the races this campaign – at this exact track over the 900m scamper – was sensational. She bolted in to win by 4.75L, which isn’t easy over such a short trip. The real proof of her class came last start, however, when she stepped up to 1100m and once again put up a 4.5L margin. I really like the fact she’s had two starts at this track and has smashed the clock (and her rivals) on both occasions. She now tackles the 1200m third up, and if she navigates her way across without spending too many tickets early, she will be very hard to run down.

The story of Jonker is a similar one. He jumped out at the trials and put up a 9L margin the first time we ever saw him. That transferred into his debut when he strolled home to win by a comfortable 3L on debut at Newcastle. What he did next, however, genuinely stamped him as a major contender for this race. He stepped up to 1100m when contesting the Wyong Magic Millions race, and couldn’t have been more impressive in demolishing a good field – many of whom he meets again here. Hugh Bowman takes over for the Grand Final today, and from barrier 3 they’ve already noted that they’ll take a sit behind the leaders to avoid being caught in an early speed battle. The query, if there is one, would be that the form from that Wyong race hasn’t exactly stood up all that well. Skyray, who lines up here, ran 2nd behind Jonker, and then finished midfield behind Quackerjack at his next start.

Ef Troop is the third of the trio. Like the other two, he really caught the eye when winning by a wide margin at his first trial, but he only fell in on his race day debut at Doomben. He took significant improvement from that run however, going on to record a 5.3L win at his second start four weeks ago. I have reservations over that win, though. It was a small field and he was always going to find the lead very easily, which he did, and from there he was always going to be very hard to catch. The margin read 5.3L and a further 6.3L back to third, but he had everything in his favour on that occasion and was perhaps flattered a touch. I have him rated third of the trio, and the draw probably doesn’t help his cause here.

So, can anything outside those three win? I doubt it, but there are some horses with legitimate claims, none more so than Nomothaj. This filly from the Lindsay Park stable has had just one race start, which just so happened to be a victory over Sunlight at Flemington. She was immediately sent for a spell and comes into this race first up. She’s trialled twice in Sydney leading into this, and has the blinkers applied for the first time here. She draws nicely and must be respected with that victory over Sunlight. The negatives for her would be the fact she tackles a high-pressure 1200m sprint first up from a spell, and is possibly being aimed at the Autumn feature races.

Therefore, this could just be a starting point for her campaign, with the stable probably hoping she pulls one out of the bag and her class gets her through. She may not be fully at her top for this, while some of the others will have been set for this race specifically. With that said, it would take a silly man to question David Hayes and co, especially after the prolific two-year-old season they had last year. At double figure odds, she looks the value in the race.

I’d expect significant improvement from the Snowden-trained Bondi here, who was beaten 4.5L by Jonker in the Wyong Magic Millions. He was only first up on that occasion, however, and gets the blinkers on for the first time here. This stable are Grand Final trainers (see Capitalist’s preparation for the Golden Slipper) and they’ll have him spot on for this. His debut run behind Golden Slipper favourite Performer reads well, and with any luck from barrier 20, I think he’ll run a bold race at $20.

Quackerjack ($34) won well at Randwick last start, likewise Meryl ($17) at Doomben, and the runner that may be overlooked is Outback Barbie ($26), who finished right alongside Sunlight in her only trial (with a 9L gap back to 3rd) before winning on debut at Doomben. The margin for her win may not have been as big as the others, but she’ll take plenty of improvement from that and draws a plum barrier in 6 here.



* Tips are author’s opinion only and do not guarantee success. Please gamble responsibly.

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