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Owner Michelle Walker finds another smart filly

IMG-6631.JPGBy Jordan Gerrans 

Owner Michelle Walker already has a QTIS Jewel trophy in her possession and now she has turned her attention to a Magic Millions 2YO Classic early in 2022.

The Rockhampton-based owner has had a charmed run when it comes to her gallopers over the last 18 months; her stable star Sweet Dolly is unbeaten in four career starts and Heroic Angel signalled her intentions of making her mark as well on debut at Townsville.

Heroic Angel is a close relation of Sweet Dolly through Sweet Cherub.

Both trained by astute Central Queensland trainer Kevin Hansen, the two Walker-owned fillies started their careers at Townsville’s Cluden Park and justified their short quotes by winning well.

Heroic Angel began her racing career by claiming a NQ feature race, the annual $32,500 Pallarenda Stakes, as she won the girls division, and now Walker and Hansen have set their sights on the riches of the Magic Millions carnival on the Gold Coast earlier this year.

Unbeaten filly Sweet Dolly was crowned 2YO QTIS Jewel champion earlier this year but was not seen at the Magic Millions, with Walker explaining she had learnt from that experience.

“When I bought Sweet Dolly as a weanling, I had no idea you could nominate horses that far out for those kind of things like the Magic Millions,” Walker said with a laugh.

“No one ever told me, maybe they just assumed that we would know that you have to be in for a race like the Magic Millions, instead of just nominating as you would for a normal race.”

Sweet Dolly and Heroic Angel are different in almost every which way.

IMG-6634.jpgSweet Dolly, who is regarded as one of the state’s premier juveniles, had early gate speed, was a fast learner and a cheap purchase – just $1,500 from the 2019 Gold Coast National Weanling Sale. 

Heroic Angel likes to get back in her first trials and races, she is still learning about the caper and went under the hammer for $70,000 at sales time.

Despite the clear differences, Walker, who hails from the Aramac area of Queensland, always had high hopes for the new two-year-old.

“We are happy with what Heroic Angel has done without being all that, but she is QTIS so we have paid up for the Magic Millions,” Walker said.

“I said to Kevin that we may as well just have a crack at it and he agreed.

“She will be a better 1200 metre horse this one, maybe up to 1400 metres.”

Popular hoop Justin Stanley, who only recently returned from a lengthy spell on the sidelines with an injury, has parented the two fillies in each of their five victories and was pleased with what the debutant showed on Saturday.

Sweet Dolly RETIRED 2022
Heroic Angel Next Racing

IMG-6632.JPG“She won a trial impressively in Rocky and it was my aim to ride her on my first day back for Kevin,” Stanley said.

“The filly doesn’t have a lot of early speed and I was a bit worried when she got so far back, but she got a nice run through them and was very strong at the end.

“It was hard for the first few months sitting on the sidelines but I’m finally back and it’s a good feeling.”

Heroic Angel settled near the tail of the field over 1000 metres at Townsville as Stanley hugged the fence and was able to pop out in the home straight to score impressively by almost two lengths.

There was some nervous moments for the team behind the new filly but experienced horseman Hansen always had faith.

“Kevin’s wife kept saying 'she cannot win from there' and Kevin never answered his wife, he just looked and me and said 'do not worry, she will come home',” Walker recalled.

“Everyone wants to think they are all like Sweet Dolly but this filly does not have that early speed to take off, she jumps well but she has not learned to muster.

“She drops out then comes home hard, she did it in her trials too.

“It was a bigger field at Townsville last week and the leaders went pretty quick early on, which made it look like she was further back and not going well, but I knew she would be coming home.”

Less than 48 hours after Heroic Angel’s debut win, she was in the paddock at Walker’s property where she will remain for a few weeks for a quick freshen up.

Hansen is likely to look for a race at Rockhampton in the coming weeks before a tilt at a race either in Brisbane or on the Sunshine Coast to boost her Magic Millions claims.

Heroic Angel is sharing a paddock with Sweet Dolly as the QTIS Jewel champion works her way back from injury.

Sweet Dolly has not been seen at the races since March of this year following a suspensory concern but Walker notes that the injury is now a thing of the past, declaring it completely healed, as they ramp up her comeback, aiming to strengthen her leg.

The team are hopeful Sweet Dolly will have her much-anticipated fifth career race start early next year.