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Duncan chasing career highlight in Chairman's Handicap with Magnufighter

By Glenn Davis

Former carpenter Jack Duncan has done all the measuring and now hopes his timing is right to claim his first Group race with Magnufighter in the Chairman’s Handicap at Doomben on Saturday.

Duncan has long believed Magnufighter was capable of winning a big race during the Brisbane winter program and has patiently planned his assault on the 2200-metre Group 3 feature.

Duncan has never won a Group race but has placed with Magnufighter previously, who finished third in the Group 2 Queensland Guineas two years ago.

Magnufighter will be ridden by senior jockey Jim Byrne, taking over from the gelding’s regular rider apprentice, Corey Bayliss.

Bayliss has ridden the five-year-old at his past three starts including his win over 2000 metres at Doomben on May 2, and last start when the gelding finished fourth in the Listed Wayne Wilson (1600m) at the Sunshine Coast two weeks ago.



“I think he’s got a good chance but it’s a strong race and he’s got a bad barrier,” Duncan said.

“It’s his biggest test to date and if he races well, he’ll run next in the (Group 3) Premier’s Cup at Doomben next month.”

Meanwhile, Sydney trainer Matthew Smith hopes a win from Ilwendo will be a springboard into the Caulfield Cup later this year.

Ilwendo is coming off a last start second to the Chris Waller-trained Another Dollar in the Gosford Cup over 2000 metres at Randwick on May 9.

Smith is confident of another big run from Ilwendo who meets Another Dollar 3kgs better terms after meeting him at level weights in the Gosford Cup.

“I’m hoping a win can lift his rating to get him into the bigger races in Melbourne this spring,” Smith said.

“He’s a 93 rater now but a win could lift his rating by six or seven points which should qualify him for a race like the Caulfield Cup.”



Smith is searching for a replacement rider for Matt McGillivray, who was injured in a fall at the Sunshine Coast on Wednesday.

Smith has won three times at Group 1 level with Hurtle Myrtle giving him his first win at the highest level in the Myer Classic at Flemington in 2011.

Japanese import Fierce Impact won the Group 1 Toorak Handicap at Caulfield and Group 1 Cantala Stakes at Flemington in 2019.

“Ilwendo ran a super race to run second in the Gosford Cup and he likes racing in Brisbane,” Smith said.

“‘He had to work too hard in the middle stages last run and I was a bit worried he was going to stop but he kept going.

“He’s won three out of four in Brisbane but he should be unbeaten as he shied at another runner the day he got beaten behind Eric The Eel at Doomben in March.”

Racing Queensland webnews - May 29