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The final roll of the dice

By Andrew Adermann

Run your eye over the list of The Star Magic Millions 2YO Classic winners and you don’t need to go any further than its recent past to understand the quality of thoroughbreds that have taken home the winner’s cheque. 

The female trio of Exhilarates (2019), Sunlight (2018), and Houtzen (2017) have gone on to forge stellar careers following their Magic Millions wins, and this weekend presents another group of hopefuls with their last chance to qualify and follow in the footsteps of the three aforementioned stars.

This Saturday will see two $125,000 2YO races over 1100 metres (one for each sex) taking place at Aquis Park - the first year the 1100 metre race has been split – courtesy of the Aquis Gold Pearl and Aquis Gold Nugget.

It may seem a little unconventional for a 2YO preparation, but the one-week back up into the Magic Millions Classic has proven to be the catalyst for success in recent times.

Exhilarates, Sunlight and Houtzen all won the lead-up sprint before taking home the Classic seven days later.

Dark Son, Bribery and The Drinks Cart have all nominated for Saturday’s Gold Coast meeting and will need to win their respective races to qualify for the 2YO Classic.

Kavak and Conceited, also nominated for Saturday, sit inside the field for now and will look to lock down their Millions spot, with placings assuring them of a run in two weeks’ time.

If the trend continues it looks likely to come via one of Kavak or Conceited.

Exhilarates should return to the carnival in less than a fortnight via the $2 million 3YO Guineas, with Kerrin McEvoy again booked for the ride.

McEvoy will be looking to put an unusually quiet spring behind him as he aims to make the Godolphin filly the first horse in Magic Millions history to win both 2YO and 3YO feature events.

The most decorated of the trio, Sunlight, is now a three-time Group 1 winner after triumphs in the 2018 Coolmore Stud Stakes, and 2019 Newmarket Handicap and William Reid Stakes.

Still only four years old, many will say that the best is yet to come from the Tony McEvoy-trained mare.

Gold Coast native Houtzen was most recently seen across international waters, where she ran an admirable second place to superstar sprinter Battaash in the Group 2 King George Stakes at Goodwood in August.

Amassing more than $2 million in prize money, the mare is now being trained by Martyn Meade in the south of England.

The Magic Millions 2YO Classic field will be finalised next week.

Click here to see the ballot order as at as at December 28, 2019.