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"Sassy" Coolangatta on song for Magic Millions 2YO Classic

Mon 10 January 2022


By Jordan Gerrans

Full of sass and giving the other babies in the paddock plenty of “curry”.

That is what stands out in the mind of Ciaron Maher when he remembers back to his initial thoughts from when he laid eyes on the filly that would become boom youngster Coolangatta for the first time.

A natural race horse – the leading Victorian trainer believes – Coolangatta is set to start as the red-hot favourite in the Gold Coast Magic Millions 2YO Classic this Saturday afternoon at Aquis Park.

Maher and co-trainer Dave Eustace know exactly what it takes to win the show-piece race on the Glitter Strip – stable-mate Away Game doing so two years ago – with unbeaten filly Coolangatta favoured to add another Classic trophy to their bulging mantelpiece.

The laid back Maher has enjoyed a few weeks in the Sunshine State leading into Magic Millions day and recalled an exciting filly catching his eye at a pre-inspection at John Muir’s Milburn Creek farm in NSW.

“I just saw her in the paddock – she was not paraded or anything like that – she was just running around in the paddock,” he said of the eventual $280,000 purchase.

“I thought she looked very athletic and had a bit of sass about her.

“She was giving the other horses plenty of curry and she just looked like an athlete, fortunately we were able to get her at the sales not long after.

“In fillies and mares, you like to see them have a bit of grit and determination – or sass - as I referred to it before.”

The daughter of Written Tycoon has been a natural racehorse since from her first moments in the stable and that translated quickly to the early stages of her racing career, claiming the Group 3 Gimcrack Stakes at Randwick in October before grabbing the Group 3 BJ McLachlan Stakes at Doomben.

Maher credits the promising two-year-old’s success to the stables decision to travel her around Australia in the early stages of her racing life – leading to increased maturity and strength.

The bay was purchased on the Gold Coast, went to the breakers at Wangaratta, on to the stables Ballarat facility, before stops at Caulfield, Sydney, Warwick Farm, Randwick and Doomben – where she has raced – before now being based at Eagle Farm and the Gold Coast in recent weeks.

She also spent a few days a Beaudesert spelling facility between her time at the Tony Gollan barn at Eagle Farm before settling in at Angela Plumb’s stable at Aquis Park.

Regular stable rider and strapper Josie Lynch, who has been with Coolangatta for much of her young career, jokes that all the movement around are like “excursions” but believes it helps bring on two-year-old’s.

Maher thinks it leads to a “well rounded” race horse when they can see as much as they can.

“It makes them grow up and the more they see the better they are,” Maher says.

“It is like a kid really.

“She is a testament to that, she proves it does not matter what stable or track you take her too, she takes it in her stride.”

Sydney-based Lynch has been there for almost every step of the way with a filly she describes as “affectionate”.

Living in Australia for the last six years after moving out from Ireland, Lynch says her job is an easy one when you are dealing with a filly like Coolangatta.

“On the track from day one really, she has always been a natural,” Lynch said.

“With the babies you usually have to teach them and guide them but not her.

“She has always known her job and for me it has been about just sitting on her and steering her around really.

“From the moment she stepped on the track she knew what she was doing, she was very natural.”

Like most visitors to the Gold Coast this time of year, Coolangatta has been enjoying the beach most mornings with Lynch as they build towards the big dance later this week.

Coolangatta has buddied up with her “big sister” stable-mate Snapdancer with the pair doing everything together, enjoying a relaxing, quiet life on the Gold Coast before it is show time on Saturday afternoon.

“She is quite busy, she does not like to wait – she wants to get on and do her job,” Lynch said of Coolangatta’s nature.

“She is a bit like myself in that way.

“She is tiny and has a big heart and motor, that is for sure.”

She ran a speedy time in the Gimcrack on debut and never really looked trouble in her first Queensland outing, but Maher is not taking much of the credit for her performances so far.

“She has been a dream, very natural, which was obvious from the first time we put a saddle on her,” Maher said.

“We coached her a long a bit but she has been very push button and made us all look pretty good.”

A natural and clean winded galloper, Coolangatta will have a look at the course proper on the Gold Coast on Tuesday morning before putting the finishing touches on her before Saturday.

Starting as short a favourite as she is in a show-piece race like the Magic Millions, Maher isn’t too phased or worried about the pressure that brings, more so focusing on enjoying himself with a summer holiday.

“The Magic Millions is such a great time of year, they market it so well as it is holiday destination and everyone has a ball that comes here,” he said.

“I have never heard one person say they have come up here before and not have a good time.

“There is a lot of money involved and they promote it pretty well. It is a great time of year; I wouldn’t miss it.”