Shaq attack: How Hughie outfoxed doubters in MM Classic

Source : Racenet

Chris Waller and his team on the Gold Coast led by Paul Shailer completed a resurrection of epic proportions when Shaquero lived up to his early season form to land the $2 million Magic Millions 2YO Classic.

Hugh Bowman made full use of barrier one on the Breeders’ Plate winner and this time allowed to settle in behind the speed, he showed a superior turn of foot to put the race away half way up the running, ending a 30 year quest to win the race for locally-based owners Neville Morgan and David Devine.

“The team did a great job all around the country and to get a Magic Millions winner was pretty special,” Waller said.

The champion trainer immediately put the Golden Slipper on the agenda for Shaquero and for stablemate She’s All Class, which he felt was hindered by a wide barrier draw.

There was a certain inevitability about Waller winning the Magic Millions 2YO Classic, but Shaquero is extra satisfying, given the measures that had to be taken to have him peak on Saturday.

Shaquero was the early Magic Millions favourite but fell out of favour when he was beaten 7.5 lengths as a $2.20 favourite first up in the B.J. McLachlan Classic at Eagle Farm.

Waller made the call to send him to the races again last Saturday and while he was better, the market didn’t overly react and he was sent out a $13 chance.

Waller’s Gold Coast stable has been a big part of the Shaquero success story, having trialled him here before the Breeders’ win and then having him in the stable for his last three runs.

“I’m very happy for Chris and Neville (Morgan) and David (Devine) and all the staff back home, especially the Gold Coast,” Waller’s Gold Coast stable manager Paul Shailer said.

“They’ve had a lot to do with this horse for a long time. I’m very proud of them and it’s a great effort by everyone.

“We added a tongue tie after (Eagle Farm), then last week he raced a little bit fresh again. Thought he was a little bit above himself again and we knew he would improve off that run, which he’s done here today.”

Hugh Bowman had isolated out of greater Sydney at his family’s Dunedoo property and then on the NSW North Coast, where he did some work with fitness guru Ron Johnson to be ready for Saturday’s assignment.

It was Bowman’s third Magic Millions success, having won on Bradbury’s Luck (2005) and Mimi Lebrock (2007).

“He had a bit up his sleeve, he didn’t know what to do when he was in front. He was stargazing a bit. Thanks so much. It means a lot,” Bowman said to Morgan and Devine after dismounting.

“He benefited from that hot speed early. Barrier one was a key ingredient.

With that barrier, I’d won a couple of Magic Millions previously, both from very soft draws and it is a huge advantage to draw inside.”

Bowman told the 500-strong audience at last Thursday’s TAB Calcutta that he felt Shaquero was a genuine chance to win the race with the run he was going to get and he went in with a good degree of confidence.

“His run was very good last week and I didn’t think the favourites stood out,” he said.

“Full credit to Chris Waller He’s not generally a back-up trainer but starting this horse (last) week might have been the key to helping him relax into the rhythm we saw him get into today.

“With that high pressure up front, I had the horse to capitalise on that because he did settle.”



Chris Waller may have ticked another box in winning the Magic Millions 2YO Classic but so did Brisbane owner Nev Morgan as he pulled off a heist 30 years in the making.

Morgan is famed for such horses as Group 1 and Golden Eagle winner Kolding, and Doncaster Mile winners Kermadec and Rangirangdoo.

But for Morgan, and great mate and Shaquero’s part-owner David Devine, the 2YO Magic Classic had always been the nut they had been unable to crack.

Nikitas finished second in the 2016 behind Capitalist, while Sizzling was fourth behind Driefontein in 2012.

“We have been trying to win this for 30 years, it’s just fantastic,” Morgan said.

“We had a lot of slow ones to start with but Sizzling was the first live chance we had.

“We have had horses with Chris for quite some time, so I know his form and it’s pretty good.”

Despite many doubting Shaquero after his flop in the BJ McLachlan in December, Morgan insisted he never lost faith. He knew that, provided the colt was given a good ride by Hugh Bowman, Shaquero could recapture the form that saw him produce a dominant victory on debut in the Breeders Plate at Randwick in October.

“That day at Eagle Farm, that wasn’t him and I knew there was probably something wrong,” Morgan said.

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