Talking Points: Saturday, 7th January 2023

Now that the Magic Millions 2yo Classic field is all but finalised, we take a look at the contenders to have stamped themselves heading into Saturday’s feature.

SOVEREIGN FUND winning the MAGIC MILLIONS WYONG 2YO CLASSIC at Wyong in Australia. Picture: Steve Hart

The market remains wide open for the Magic Millions 2yo Classic (1200m), worth $2.5 million with Empire Of Japan heading TAB's market at $4 (bigger elsewhere), and as is customary in futures' markets, seven horses are $11 or shorter.

I wrote about some of the key chances a couple of weeks back but with all focus on the Gold Coast this week (and racing narratives lacking elsewhere at this time of year), I thought it prudent to take a final look given some other contenders have emerged.

The five-year winning average of the 2yo Classic is 110 by Timeform's scale and perhaps just as importantly, the average peak rating by the winner prior was 103.6 (we'll call it 104) and so that may be a decent indicator of who is on the right track for Saturday.

In this year's field, just four horses have run to 104 or above: Empire Of Japan, Platinum Jubilee, Sovereign Fund and Fire Lane, with Miss Coota sitting on 103 as a filly in her first preparation.

There was just 0.6 lengths separating Fire Lane, Platinum Jubilee and Empire Of Japan when they clashed at Randwick, Fire Lane getting a late split and posting a big new peak of 106, up from 94 when safely held by Sovereign Fund at Wyong.

Empire Of Japan started favourite there and did look the 'run of the race', coming from back in the field to post the fastest last 600m of the race despite being galloped on. Platinum Jubilee was rock-solid leading the field and under weight-for-age, Timeform has her ever so slightly ahead of Empire Of Japan at both their starts.

The current market hasn't changed much between the three- Fire Lane sits at $15, some 3x bigger than Empire Of Japan having started 3.8x his price last start, just highlighting how much the market takes SP profiles into account.

Platinum Jubilee is at $7- 1.4x Empire Of Japan's price, having started 1.12x his price last start.

The big positive for her is she's shown adaptability- coming from well off the pace on debut before leading last start and posting an identical rating.

As with nearly any track in the world, leading over the Gold Coast 1200m generates the highest winning strike rate. Those leading at the 400m have won 25.8% of races at the track and distance, and 68% of winners have come from the first four in running, but how does that compare to the (expected) higher pressure of a full field 2yo race worth $2.5 million?

Looking at recent winners of the race, the position in run (at the 400m mark) are as follows: 3rd, 5th, 7th, 15th, 2nd, 1st so being able to put yourself in the race is a huge positive.

Sovereign Fund is the other that has hit the elusive 104 mark and does race on the speed. A winner at Wyong on debut (over Fire Lane), he was dominant at Doomben last start, getting a soft lead but finishing full of running to post a rating of 105+.

A stablemate, and seemingly their second seed to Empire Of Japan, and raced by the same owners (Newgate Bloodstock and China Horse Club), Sovereign Fund is right up there in betting and deservedly so.

Betting will depend on what the market does on the day- I've still got Empire Of Japan the horse to beat, but if he's starting $3.5 and suddenly Sovereign Fund is pushing double figures it becomes a different story.

Currently however, horses such as Infatuation and Empress Of Wonder are too close to the big guns in betting and would need to make a big jump. It can be done (see Away Game), but she started 40-1, not 8-1.

Racing and Sports