By Glenn Davis
Trainer Matt Dunn’s attempt to boost his representation in next week’s Magic Millions Classic struck a hurdle when Verbal Assault drew poorly in the inaugural Aquis Gold Nugget at the Gold Coast on Saturday.
Dunn already has Lady Banff qualified for the $2 million feature on January 11 but Verbal Assault is well down the order of entry and needs to win the Gold Nugget to leapfrog into the race.
Lady Banff is easily in the field for the Magic Millions Classic and is a $15 chance in early TAB markets after winning two of her three starts and earning more than $190,000 in prizemoney.
She won her first two starts at Doomben in November and lost none of her admirers after being trapped three wide when edged out by the Steve O’dea-trained Gotta Kiss at Eagle Farm on December 21.
Dunn has good opinion of Verbal Assault who was bought for $130,000 by Dunn’s close friend, bloodstock agent Neil Jenkinson.
The Murwillumbah trainer is not overly concerned with drawing barrier 12 in the 1110-metre feature which has 13 acceptors but is restricted to 10 starters.
“It’s not the best draw but he’s got a lot of speed and I’d like to see him lead or take up a spot somewhere just off the pace,” Dunn said.
“He could have run in Sydney last week but why travel down there and back to try and qualify.
“The advantage we have here is we don’t have to travel and all the interstate horses have to come here.”
Verbal Assault, a son of Deep Field, collected $16,825 in prizemoney when he romped in by nearly five lengths at Murwillumbah on December 15 but $5,625 was BOBS bonus money which doesn’t count towards the Magic Millions Classic.
Dunn is not concerned with his “all or nothing” approach to secure a Magic Millions berth with Verbal Assault as four of the past five Magic Millions winners have won at the Gold Coast meeting the week before the big race.
Le Chef started the trend winning in 2015 and was followed by Houtzen (2017), Sunlight (2018) and Exhilarates (2019) before going on to win the Magic Millions Classic.
“Backing-up into the Magic Millions won’t bother him at all,” Dunn said.
“Even if he was already qualified, I would have run him on Saturday as he’s such a nuggety type and a good do-er.”
In past years, the two-year-old lead up race to the Magic Millions was one race but this year it has been split into two divisions – the Gold Pearl for fillies and Gold Nugget for colts and geldings with each race carrying $125,000 in prizemoney.
Dunn snapped up Sydney’s Hugh Bowman to ride Verbal Assault and he also will ride stablemate Snow Valley, one of three runners for the stable in the Magic Millions Rising Stars C4 Plate for fillies and mares.
Racing Queensland webnews January 1