By Glenn Davis
Trainer Liam Birchley’s annual pilgrimage to the Magic Millions Classic will resume when unbeaten filly Courseshewill and Cuban Mint tackle the Listed Calaway Gal Stakes at Doomben on Saturday.
Courseshewill, a $175,000 buy at the Magic Millions sales, became the first horse to qualify for the $2 million Magic Millions Classic at the Gold Coast on January 12 when she maintained her unbeaten record at Doomben on October 6.
The daughter of the ill-fated 2014 Magic Millions Classic winner Unencumbered previously claimed the first two-year-old race of the season in Queensland in the Pat O’Shea Memorial Plate at Toowoomba in September.
Cuban Mint, a $45,000 buy, finished fifth at her debut at the Sunshine Coast on December 2 and needs prizemoney to qualify for the Magic Millions Classic.
Birchley is yet to win the Magic Millions Classic but it’s not for want of trying.
Birchley has been one of Queensland’s leading trainers for many years and is famous for winning races around the country with relatively cheap buys.
He has qualified runners for the Magic Millions Classic in 13 of the past 15 years.
While he has never won the $2 million feature, he has placed four times with Paprika (2009), Missy Longstocking (2013), Soho Ruby (2014) and Pepperano (2015).
Birchley is not overly concerned with the forecast for rain but warned Courseshewill, who will wear blinkers for the first time, won’t be at her top for the Calaway Gal Stakes.
“She had three weeks in the paddock after her last run and she’s had a jump out to prepare for this,” Birchley said.
“She’s not at her top but we have the luxury of her being qualified already so we don’t have to put any undue pressure on her.”
Birchley said it was difficult to compare Courseshewill to his previous Magic Millions contenders.
“The blinkers will be a big help for her but it’s hard to assess her with my previous runners in the Magic Millions,” he said.
“At this stage I’d say she’s in the middle of the pack until I get to see her a bit more.
“It’s hard to say what will happen with the weather prediction but she’s won on a heavy, although I don’t think she’s really a wet track horse and is better on top of the ground.”
Birchley said Cuban Mint, a daughter of noted wet track sire Mossman, had improved since her debut on December 2.
“She’s just about got to win to get in and she’s improved in leaps and bounds since her first run,” he said.
Racing Queensland webnews December 13