Racing Saturday December 31 Preview: Gai Wanting Debonair Performance In McLachlan


A number of talented juveniles will be looking to force their way into the reckoning for the upcoming two-year-old Magic Millions event with a strong showing in the McLachlan Stakes (Race 5) over 1200m at Eagle Farm on Saturday.

Gai Waterhouse is no stranger to success in this event (which was formerly named the Tommy Smith Slipper in honour of her legendary father) having trained the winner on four separate occasions, most recently with Driefontein back in 2011.

Now in partnership with Adrian Bott, she will be represented on the weekend by well-bred filly Debonairly, who created a real impression when powering to a four and a half length win on debut recently.

Currently lying 27th on the order of entry, a top three finish should be enough to earn Debonairly a spot in the field on January 14 but the manner of her runaway win at Warwick Farm has the camp confident she will prove too classy on the weekend.

Leading local hoop Tegan Harrison (pictured above) will take the ride on the filly, who has lobbed ideally in barrier five and should be able to drive forward in search of the lead.

Indeed, it promises to be a frenetic early dash with plenty of speed drawn toward the inside, none more so than Chris Munce’s Phelan Ready Stakes winner Ours To Keep.

The unbeaten colt has met with heavy support since our fixed odds market was released on Wednesday afternoon and appears set to go off favourite come race day.

Munce, who has enjoyed considerable success with his two-year-olds of late and unveiled another likely type in Sir Cass midweek, went as far as to liken Ours To Keep to former champion galloper Dance Hero, whom he piloted to victory in the 2004 Golden Slipper.

He’s got a long way to go to reach those heights but we’d agree with the ex-jockey’s assessment that Ours To Keep has a racing pattern suited to success in these types of events and expect him to take all the beating on Saturday.

With Toby Edmonds electing not to back up last Saturday’s Doomben winner Houtzen, the Gold Coast-based trainer will instead look to use the race to qualify stablemate Tiara Star, who also enters the race off the back of a dominant performance on the Sunshine Coast.

She’s a filly who has improved with every run to date but despite Edmonds’ suggestion that the step up to six furlongs would suit her, we can’t help but feel that there’s a lot more quality here and are happy to oppose her at the prices.

Godolphin runner Coorg is said to be highly rated within that operation and gets his chance to atone after disappointing on debut when losing out to Chauffeur.

The colt raced very greenly on that occasion and will surely have derived plenty of benefit from the experience so our Brisbane traders will be on the lookout for any serious market moves.

Of the others, Snitzkraft has plenty of natural speed, kept Ours To Keep honest on debut and is likely to figure prominently again while Stephen O’Dea’s Colosimo has done little wrong to date but the horror draw had badly hindered her chances. 

My tips:

1. Ours To Keep

2. Coorg

3. Debonairly

4. Snitzkraft

Later, Global Glamour (pictured above) makes her first appearance north of the border in the Nudgee Quality (Race 8) over 1200m after a bumper spring campaign that yielded Group 1 wins in both the Flight Stakes and Thousand Guineas.

While she looked good in a recent trial and has drawn soundly in five, the 59.5kgs is a decent impost against some capable mares and at the prices we’re happy to accommodate any clients wanting to load up on her in the last event on the card.

Her main opposition is expected to come from the in-form Kinshaschi, who has finished amongst the placings at all nine of her career starts to date and will be ridden by Jeff Lloyd.

The South African has the local jockey’s premiership shot to bits once again and may elect to go back from the tricky draw and save his charge for a final burst.

Kris Lees will saddle up three starters and while both Brook Road and Press Report have their moments, it’s likely to be Zestful who carries the real expectations of the Novocastrian.

She’ll drop 6.5kgs off her first-up win at Canterbury and has already met with some specking in early markets to topple the favourite.

As it is, with Waterhouse electing to run Global Glamour against older mares unbeaten colt Winning Rupert should turn the Vo Rogue Plate (Race 4) for three-year-olds into a procession once again given the magnitude of his recent efforts.

Wins for both horses would set up a salivating clash in the Magic Millions Guineas in a fortnight’s time.

Rupert has been unchallenged in each of his runs this preparation and went within a whisker of Takeover Target’s 1200m track record at Doomben last start having eclipsed the same mark on this track at the start of the month.

The prohibitive odds aren’t going to make anyone rich but offer something ‘better than bank interest’ and our clients are encouraged to multi-up the moral of the day with their other fancied selections to enjoy a greater return.

Elsewhere, the Perth Cup (Race 8) looks a competitive affair with Perfect Reflection looking to emulate the performance of Delicacy, who captured this race for the Grant & Alana Williams pairing in similar circumstances 12 months ago.

She’s been given an identical preparation through the major Group races but will spot 5kgs to most of the field and that may take its toll.

Despite finishing on the wrong end of the ledger when she was a heavily backed winner of the Ted van Heemst, we’re happy enough to take her on again this week.

The races presents as something of a Grand Final for JRA Trophy winner Kia Ora Koutou, one of five runners for the Durrant/Miller training partnership.

A former Victoria Derby placegetter, the JRA marked his first win in more than a year and despite the stable’s confidence we can’t help but feel he has been overrated by the market.

Instead, we were looking to the likes of last Saturday’s ATA Stakes winner Star Exhibit to have a strong hand in proceedings under Jarrad Noske.

While we’ve seen some early each-way interest at tasty prices for Fathoms of Gold, who revived memories of yesteryear in the Ted van Heemst after jockey Matthieu Autier opened up an enormous lead on the rest of the field.

Long-odds punters were dripping with excitement but sadly he couldn’t hold on, although there’s every chance the Frenchman will adopt the same tactics on the weekend and attempt to string the field right out.

In Sydney, a rare Saturday card in the inner-west is punctuated by the Canterbury Classic (Race 7) over 1200m, a race which marks the return to action of the Group 1 placed sprinter Ball of Muscle (pictured above).

Despite opening as favourite, he’s been on the drift in betting with the early money trending towards Snowden mare Flippant, who has been freshened since a comprehensive win down the Flemington straight on Cup Day and should be ready to go.

My Tips:

Best: Cylinder Beach (Brisbane, Race 7, No.5)

Value: Choice We Had (Sydney, Race 8 No.7)

Lay: Alaskan Jade (Adelaide, Race 8, No.6)

Read More From Stewart Croker