Filly Shows The Game To Lift 2YO Classic Trophy

Co-trainer Ciaron Maher always believed there was a sense of timing about Away Game (Snitzel) ahead of the $2 million The Star Gold Coast Magic Millions 2YO Classic and his pre-race opinion was realised in style when the filly romped to victory.

And Maher, as he so often does with training partner David Eustace, did indeed have Away Game’s preparation timed to the minute with the youngster delivering precisely on time with a commanding performance to win with ease.

Away Game had opened her career with a fourth placing in the Listed Merson Copper S. before she was dispatched to Queensland and duly won the Listed Callaway Gal S. in a canter and was similarly untested to produce a mirror performance on Saturday.

When she drew a wide gate in the Classic, Maher still remained keen on her chances and so it proved.

“She’s a straight forward horse, very natural and you can put her wherever you want,” he said.

Away Game settled behind the leading pack for rider Luke Currie, who had ridden her in the Calaway Gal, and when he asked her for an effort she exploded clear.

“I really believed on her trackwork she was ready to fire in this race,” Maher said. “I am a bit lost for words, which is unusual for me. I feel a bit weird and don’t really know how to describe it. It is certainly one of the most satisfying moments of my career.”

For Currie it was his second Magic Millions 2YO Classic victory having guided the brilliant 2018 edition heroine and subsequent multiple Group 1 winner Sunlight (Zoustar) to victory.

“She is different to Sunlight, but she has a similar explosive burst when she lets down,” he said. “Both times I have won her she really put them away quickly.”

Away Game surged clear 200 metres from home to put the issue beyond any doubt, but there was still plenty of merit in the performance of the Peter and Paul Snowden-trained runner-up Stellar Pauline (Not A Single Doubt), who is raced by Barbara Banke’s Stonestreet Stables.

“I followed the winner the whole way, but she was a bit too good for us,” rider Brenton Avdulla said.

Third home was the Godolphin runner Conceited (Brazen Beau), who was bidding to defend Godolphin’s title won so impressively 12 months ago by the filly Exhilarates (Exceed And Excel).

“I had to go a pair further back than I wanted, but I was very proud of his effort,” jockey Damian Lane said.

Away Game was bred by the Watson family’s Mill Park Stud with the Mills Thoroughbred Partnership and sold under the South Australian farm’s banner to Kerri Radcliffe Bloodstock last year for $425,000.

The filly is raced by a syndicate managed by the United States-based Hannah Mathiesen, the founder of Oakmont Horse Club, a new racing and pinhooking partnership, who enjoyed a working stint with Maher and Eustace.

“She was the first horse my family and I purchased at auction in Australia,” she told TDN AusNZ.

“Last year was my first time attending the Magic Millions Sale when I was working for Ciaron and Dave. Kerri Radcliffe was buying for a US client that my family often partners with, so we decided to team up and try to find a well-bred filly or two to send to Ciaron.

“Ciaron, Kerri and I sat down and compared lists and ended up with about five fillies that we all agreed on. Away Game was my absolute favourite filly in the sale, so I was thrilled to get her.

“She was so well put together and precocious-looking and had a huge, purposeful walk. The pedigree was there as well, being by Snitzel and a full to a stakes winner, so she ended up being exactly what I was looking for.”

Away Game is a sister to the Dequetteville S. winner and multiple Group 3 placegetter Modern Wonder, Away Game is out of the 2-year-old winner stakes performed Elusive Quality (USA) mare Elusive Wonder.

She is a half-sister to the black type winner Tantra (Royal Academy (USA) and they are out of Abbotswood (NZ) (Sir Tristram {Ire}). It is the family of this season’s pre-post G1 New Zealand Derby favourite Dragon Leap (Pierro) and the G1 Randwick Guineas winner Inference (So You Think {NZ}).

Copy: Paul Vettise, Thoroughbred Daily News Aus/NZ, Images: Magic Millions