By Tony Megahey
An impressive barrier trial second to Group One winner Music Magnate has Port Macquarie’s Victorem the major focus and betting firmer into a TAB $60,000 Class 3 Highway Handicap (1000m) at Royal Randwick on Saturday.
Jenny’s Graham’s three-year-old gelding has won two of just three moderate grade starts but didn’t surprise his trainer by finishing just 1.5 lengths behind Bjorn Baker’s 2016 Doomben 10,000 winner in a Rosehill Gardens open 900m trial late last week.
If Music Magnate was hard held in 52.20 secs, the bush restricted galloper also had plenty in reserve, and has untapped talent.
“We’ve always had an opinion of him since those two-year-old wins and he’s progressed super but I’d imagine Music Magnate wouldn’t have been extended at all in the trial,” she said. “It was really nice work though, He was strong through the line and is a lovely type. It was really important that we had another trial without any race fitness going into Saturday. We came down to Rosehill for that reason and also to give him some travel experience. That’s always important with young horses if they are to progress to city grade. And that’s what we’re hoping for if he runs well on Saturday.
“We couldn’t be happier, he’s drawn well, has his regular rider, and should finish it off at 1000m because he was strong at 1200m at Grafton. But looking at it, it’s a tough race with some depth, these Highway races always are.”
In the trial, Victorem was second-up from a lengthy spell as a two-year old, after resuming with an impressive trial win on his home track mid-November.
Connections would welcome any rain for the I Am Invincible gelding who won by a widening four lengths on a heavy ten track in a Kempsey two-year-old race in June, and then was decisive again winning over 1200m at Grafton in July.
At headquarters on Saturday, Victorem carries 54.5kg for regular rider Ben Looker.
Significantly Looker made the long trek from the northern rivers to ride Victorem in the Rosehill trial. The sprinter also has a nice family touch as he is ridden regularly in track work by Jenny’s daughter Melinda.
Victorem will likely dispute favouritism but the big watch is on maiden galloper Acquittal from the prolific Highway winning stable of Danny Williams who has made the significant booking of Kerrin McEvoy. Acquitall was odds on, when an unlucky second in a Goulburn maiden. It emphasises Williams’s opinion as he is jumping grades to contest a class 3 Highway.
Aleacia Bennett’s July Rosehill Highway winner Buddy Honest is also primed with two trials from a spell. Last Saturday’s Rosehill Highway winner Todd Howlett will be firm in the markets with stable-mates All Stand, a Scone and Cessnock winner, and Magic Beneteau.