The Banker checks the money for Saturday

The first of the big meetings for 2021 is upon us, the Magic Millions at the Gold Coast, with two $2 million races and five carrying $1 million purses.

The feature races, the Magic Millions 2YO Classic and the Gold Coast Magic Millions 3YO Guineas, may not have the lustre of other big races that carry black type status, but the importance to the breeding industry however is not lost.

While many racing followers are still on holidays around Australia, the big players have descended on the Gold Coast for race day and the associated sales, but us punters have kept an eagle eye on what is going on up north.

We have been watching the early two-year-old's strut their stuff, particularly in Sydney and Brisbane, as that gives the babies the required experience of racing right-handed.

While the three-year-old's are more exposed, it is still a balancing act for their trainers, whether to race through the spring, or bypass, and concentrate on the Gold Coast with the lucrative prize money.

A slice of history will be made if Away Game can win the Gold Coast Guineas, as no 2YO Classic victor has returned the following year to win. And the way Ciaron Maher and David Eustace prepare their horses, it would not be beyond the realms of possibility that they could achieve the feat.

Big fields on offer at the Gold Coast

Some horror draws have resulted in some of the fancied runners drifting significantly in betting for the 2YO Classic. The Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott-trained SWIFT WITNESS has been the best supported since the barrier draw on Tuesday and is now the $3.90 favourite after drawing barrier 11. 

She won here last week in impressive fashion and is on the quick back-up, a tactic that has been successful previously in the helter-skelter affair. Waterhouse and Bott like to have their horses up on the speed, and Brenton Avdulla is sure to have the filly in the firing line for a long way.

The Gold Coast 3YO Guineas looks a two-horse race with ISOTOPE and AWAY GAME sharing top billing. Isotope lowered Away Game’s colours at Doomben on December 19, however the latter was first-up. Away Game has since won a barrier trial at the Gold Coast and is accustomed to the big race day atmosphere having won at the meeting last year. At the odds, I would rather be taking $4 about Away Game than the $2.50 on offer for Isotope, despite the weight advantage in the latter’s corner.

Class to prevail early at Flemington

For those who concentrate on Melbourne racing, PARLOPHONE could be the way to get your day off to a good start. Parlophone has had her problems, but at the same time is very smart. She has a propensity to buck at the start of her races, but at the same time she is a stakes winner who also performed well in better company early in the spring. The early support has come for PARLOPHONE from $3.20 into $2.80 and it could pay to follow that move.

HALVORSEN is making a long-awaited return having not raced since producing a huge effort at Caulfield in the Oakleigh Plate last February. He had won his three previous outings on the straight track at Flemington and has a sound fresh record. He trialled nicely at Cranbourne on Monday and as a result has been supported from $11 into $6.50 for his first-up assignment.

Provincial galloper well tried at Rosehill

Lightly-raced COUNT DE RUPEE has raced just once in town previously and punters have liked what they have seen from the Robert and Luke Price-trained three-year-old, supporting him from $4.60 into $4 in the Schweppes Handicap. Count De Rupee is a two-time winner on his home track at Kembla Grange and was a last start third on heavy ground at Randwick on the Kensington track. It was a performance that was solid and getting onto firmer footing as brought the support for the gelding.

Another early go to follow at Murray Bridge

Last week this column pointed to the good early support that Second Slip had in early betting and the Will Clarken-trained galloper got the prize. The size of the support on CALYPSO REIGN in the Bunzl (SA) Handicap is not as large, but is well worth noting. The David Jolly-trained galloper is resuming off a break and has been $8 into $5.50 since betting first opened. Calypso Reign has not raced since July, but has filled a place in both runs fresh and it could pay to follow the betting move.

Away Game winning the 2020 2YO Classic at the Gold Coast, picture