Isotope headlines Gollan's New Years assault
Thu 30 December 2021
By Andrew Adermann
All eyes will be on Saturday’s Listed Magic Millions Nudgee Stakes as Tony Gollan’s star mare Isotope makes her highly anticipated return after a near eight-month layoff.
Isotope announced herself as one of Queensland’s premier gallopers over the last 18 months, running second in the Group 2 Champagne Classic last winter, before a summer campaign that netted her two Listed triumphs – the Gold Edition Plate and Mode Plate.
The four-year-old was last seen at the races during the Sydney autumn where she claimed the Listed Darby Munro Stakes at Rosehill in impressive fashion before a heartbreaking second placing to subsequent Group 1 winner, Wild Ruler, in the Group 2 Arrowfield Sprint at Randwick.
Following that run, things took a turn for the worse while spelling in NSW, where she suffered a colic attack and was forced to undergo surgery, ruling her out of racing for the remainder of 2021.
“She went out for a routine break after the Arrowfield in Sydney and they noticed that she was just a little bit off her game in the paddock and a little bit colicy,” Gollan said.
“We were lucky enough to have a really good person on hand down there and the people at Agnes Banks in Sydney.
“She was there for about a night and they realised that it was going to be pretty nasty. She had an impaction colic, so something stuck in her stomach that she couldn’t pass through so they quickly operated on her and removed the blockage – the rest of it has been fairly smooth sailing.
“She’s had the required amount of time off and has come back here for a smooth prep thus far.”
The TAB Queensland Summer Racing Carnival was always Gollan’s aim for Isotope, and he believes that he has got her in near perfect order for Saturday’s assignment.
The premier trainer could not have asked for a better barrier ahead of the mare’s return, drawing three in the field of 16, with long-time partner in crime Ryan Maloney aboard.
“I knew that by the time I got her back in that I had enough time to have her ready for Magic Millions day,” he said.
“I didn’t know whether we’d get the run in on New Year’s Day but that didn’t really matter to me, and I was happy to take as long as needed to get her back.
“She’s had the trial plus a 1000-metre jump out as well so she has a really good base under her and has done plenty of track work – she’s been working with Krone the whole way through so they are two handy mares to have working together.
“Realistically it will depend on the track conditions on Saturday; if it was a really testing track I’d just expect a nice first-up run but if the surface is fairly standard then I’d expect her to be very hard to beat.”
Looking past The Star Gold Coast Magic Millions Raceday, Gollan is quietly confident that Isotope can follow a similar path to that forged by Group 1 Coolmore Classic champion Krone earlier this year.
“I’m not totally sure where her distance range is yet; if I thought she can step out to that 1400 or 1500 metres then I’d love to get her to the Coolmore in Sydney otherwise we’ll have her here for the winter,” he said.
“It will all depend on a few discussions post-Millions but at this stage we are keen to take her to Sydney in the autumn.
Isotope will be joined by a number of stablemates in Saturday’s feature, including Krone and promising mare Miami Fleiss.
Krone – one of Gollan’s three Group 1 winners in 2021 – also has not been seen at the races since the Sydney spring, after a virus derailed her spring campaign.
Following that setback, owners Roll the Dice Racing struck a deal to sell the six-year-old to Rosemont Stud with a career in the breeding barn confirmed as her next stage in life.
The mare’s retirement was short-lived after attempts to get her in foal to I Am Invincible this season proved unsuccessful.
“She was getting ready for the spring and got a pretty nasty virus so that just put things on hold and was running out of time so decided to give her a short break with the aim of going to the summer,” Gollan said.
“Within that time, the ownership group had changed and she was going to go straight to stud, but when that wasn’t quite where they wanted her to be at the time, they decided to put her back in work.
“She’s just followed along the prep we always had planned for her anyways, this was always going to be her last prep no matter what.”
Gollan believes that a pair of trials under her belt, combined with the predicted softer ground should make it ideal conditions for a strong showing from the mare.
“Her trials have never been flash but she’s good in track work, and she’ll enjoy the softer ground on the weekend,” he said.
“It will all be up to her depending on how she comes back; she’s got a pretty high rating being a Group 1 winner and if she can’t get back to that kind of level then she’ll just head off to be a mum.
“I’ve got six runs planned for her over the coming six months and we’ll just see what happens over that time.”
Meanwhile, another Black Soil Bloodstock mare in Miami Fleiss will be looking for a fourth win on the bounce in Saturday’s Nudgee Stakes.
The four-year-old is coming off a brilliant win in the Listed Eureka Stud Classic on George Moore Stakes day at Doomben, being backed as if unbeatable.
“It’s an important lead up race for her heading towards Magic Millions day, where we’ll nominate her for the QTIS and the Fillies and Mares race on the day,” Gollan said.
“Hopefully the weather gods shine on her and I’d love to see her draw a bit better – Steph (Thornton) gave her a great ride off a wide draw the other day but it will make everyone’s life a lot easier with a better draw.”
Thornton has formed a great affinity with the horse, piloting her to victory at her last two starts, which also included the coveted Pink Ribbon Cup at the Gold Coast Turf Club on September 18.
“Steph has been great, and she’s been a really good inclusion in our stable,” Gollan said.
“I used her a little bit periodically previously, but she’s become a mainstay as time has gone on and there’s a few horses here that she has a really good affinity with.
“She has a great understanding of Miami Fleiss and it’s a great horse-rider combo.”
The Gollan yard will be well represented across the card this Saturday, with three-year-old Tiger Heart taking his place in the Group 3 Magic Millions Vo Rogue Plate, as well as the in-form Tambo’s Mate and Garibaldi in the $200,000 The Buffering.
“I try to target all the carnivals as much as I can here in Queensland, but I do enjoy the Summer Carnival and I love the way it’s grown particularly in the last six to eight years,” Gollan said.
“The format has slightly changed each year and it’s got better and better, and I’m lucky to just have the right horses for this time of the year.”