All conquering trainer Chris Waller landed his first $2m, The Star Gold Coast Magic Millions 2YO Classic (1200m) when Shaquero (by Shalaa (Ire)) ran out an impressive winner of the coveted juvenile contest which holds pride of place on Queensland’s Gold Coast Race Club’s annual calendar.
A race very much on the wish list of every trainer in the domestic training ranks, Waller’s name had somehow been missing from the honour roll so far in a remarkable career, but is now very much on his list of conquests following the emphatic success of a very talented 2-year-old which easily proved to be the best horse on the day.
Successful in the Breeders’ Plate (1000m) at his first race start in October, Shaquero looked as if he had lost his way when resoundly defeated as an odds-on favourite in an Eagle Farm lead-up to the Magic Millions 2YO Classic pre-Christmas.
At his only other outing, Shaquero was shaded by Finance Tycoon on the Gold Coast only seven days ago and, if anything, appeared to have a task ahead to reverse the order on the same horse in today’s feature.
It proved nothing of the sort!
In a typical renewal of the 2YO Classic when a clear passage proves all important, Shaquero received an outstanding ride by Hugh Bowman before the duo careered away from their rivals in the Gold Coast straight.
Shaquero ultimately scored by more than a length from the locally-trained galloper Alpine Edge (by Better Than Ready) in second, which in turn finished the same distance ahead of pre-post favourite She’s All Class (by I Am Invincible) in third.
Queen of Wizardry finished equally strongly as she had done on her successful debut to claim fourth, while SP favourite Swift Witness ($3.50) could only manage 10th.
Shaquero and Hugh Bowman heading to the line, picture Stevehart.com.au
Not known as a trainer of acutely precocious 2-year-olds, multiple premiership winning trainer Chris Waller has very much built his reputation on developing horses for 3-year-old and older competition. However, winning rider Hugh Bowman suggested after the win that the victory of Shaquero could represent a new phase in the Waller stable’s evolution and that more of his type should be expected.
In terms of the performance, Bowman reported: “He travelled really well. He benefited from that hot speed early and barrier one was certainly a key ingredient to our success today. I’ve won a couple of Magic Millions [Classics previously] and they were both from low draws, and it is a huge advantage to draw inside.
“Full credit to Chris Waller, he’s not generally a back-up sort of trainer but starting this horse last week might have been the key to helping him relax into the rhythm that we saw him get into today. I thought on the line he was actually stargazing a bit, and if you have a look at the slow motion vision he was pricking his ears on the line, so there’s still more to come with him.”
As Bowman alluded to, much was made of the fact that Waller was prepared to back-up Shaquero when defeated over more or less the same course and distance on last Saturday’s Gold Coast card. The fact that there was more than a three-and-a-half length differential between Shaquero and Finance Tycoon from last week’s result also illustrates a training masterstroke.
Shaquero ran 1m10.39s in claiming the Magic Millions 2YO Classic, the final 600m sectional being recorded as 35.26s.
Official margins of the race were 1-1/4 Len x 1-1/4 Len.
SPs on the race were $13.00 the winner Shaquero, $8.50 the runner-up Alpine Edge, and $3.90 the minor placegetter She’s All Class.
Raced by Mr N Morgan & Mr D H T Devine, Shaquero took his earnings to $1,274,625 from his four starts.
Following his Magic Millions 2YO Classic victory, tab.com.au cut Shaquero’s odds from $34.00 to $17.00 for this year’s Golden Slipper.
The win completed, picture Stevehart.com.au