Metallurgical, a highly-spruiked but initially disappointing $2.2 million yearling, is finally getting some love from the punters with the progressive four-year-old a market firmer for this Saturday’s Ascot Handicap.
Prepared by John Thompson, Metallurgical attracted a huge purchase price at the 2008 Magic Millions Yearling Sale being an impeccably-bred son of Redoute’s Choice from Last Tycoon mare Lady Capel.
Nathan Tinkler’s Patinack Farm Racing operation and fellow co-owner Gerry Harvey suffered through a frustrating opening racing season with Metallurgical during 2009-10 and to date have only won back $167,740 in earnings from their huge initial outlay.
Tinkler has a special association with the Metallurgical breeding line.
Metallurgical’s three-quarter brother Casino Prince handed the mining magnate his opening Group 1 trophy with a win in the 2008 Chipping Norton Stakes.
Then there is Onemorenomore, who shares grand-dam Last Tycoon with Metallurgical, the son of Red Ransom the first yearling purchased by Patinack to win at elite level in the 2009 Champagne Stakes.
Both Casino Prince and Onemorenomore are now standing stallions for Patinack, the dream for Metallurgical to eventually join them at stud still a dream Tinkler hopes can eventuate.
On debut, Metallurgical was a massive flop finishing over 11 lengths away seventh to Rothesay in the Blackberry Handicap (1100m) at Rosehill in July of 2009 when injured during the race after striking early interference.
Metallurgical would have nine more starts over the following 12 months, which produced a record of inconsistency with everything from narrow seconds at Rosehill to dead-last finishes at Randwick.
Finally, connections were given a glimmer of better times to come when Metallurgical broke their maiden status in November of last year.
Resuming from a three month spell, Metallurgical won a soft 1000m maiden race at Eagle Farm on November 2 and having gotten the monkey off their back, continued on to record too more race wins.
This preparation has been the most promising yet, Metallurgical enjoying two wins and three second place finishes from their five runs since April.
With the ‘dud’ label to quash and a stud career to start working towards, connections chose to geld Metallurgical and move him from Sydney to Brisbane, which so far has proven a successful.
“The reason for bringing him north was twofold,” Thompson said.
“The first was to get down in class and let him go through the grades but more importantly was to get speed on in his races.
“He races best when he can be ridden cold off a hot speed.”
On May 28 Metallurgical was given their first back-type assignment and they ran an encouraging second, just beaten into second by Gundy Son in the Listed Chief De Beers Stakes (1100m) at Doomben, a brave effort having to overcome a wide barrier start.
At their most recent run it was another fast-finishing second with Metallurgical crossing three quarters of a length away from winner Pinwheel in the Group 3 WJ Healy Stakes (1200m) at Eagle Farm on June 25.
“He had a foot abscess and missed a week of work before his last run, which probably flattered the winner,” Thompson said.
They are back at Eagle Farm this Saturday, Metallurgical one of 10 final acceptors for the $80,000 Listed Ascot Handicap (1200m) on Queensland Cup Day.
Fellow Redoute’s Choice four-year-old, the Darryl Hansen-trained Essington is the odd-on favourite at $1.85 to take out the Ascot Handicap.
Essington comes off a strong win in the Rockhampton Newmarket Handicap (1300m) on June 23 where they cared 59kg to victory, and on Saturday drop back to 57kg.
Metallurgical meets them 3kg better in the weights, set to carry 54kg with Scott Galloway in the mount and after drawing ideally mid-field in barrier four are starting to have a number of big money bets placed on them for an upset Ascot Handicap result.
“Everything is in order now, there looks good enough speed and he gets his chance to win a Listed race,” Thompson said.
Following the Ascot Handicap, Metallurgical will have a break in the paddock before being bought back in the summer to target the Gold Coast’s Magic Millions Racing Carnival.
“In the future, he will definitely get 1400 metres but for the moment these shorter races with good speed on are ideal,” Thompson said.