After winning the first at Caulfield on debut this Saturday gone, the 2014 Magic Millions 2YO Classic on the Gold Coast next month has become a realistic goal for the Mick Price-trained Nordic Empire.
The promising BC3 Thoroughbred-owned Wilander colt went out as a $5 chance for their maiden career start on their home track over the weekend, the $80,000 Flemington Equine Clinic Plate (1000m) kicking off the Melbourne racing action on Saturday.
The youngster made the right early impression too with Melbourne Cup winning jockey Damien Oliver guiding them to a one and three quarter length victory over the David Hayes-trained Zulu Land ($7).
They were settled just off the pace three-wide, joining in at the front as they headed round the turn for home.
Nordic Empire then hit the front with 200m left to travel before storming home to widen the margin with their runaway win.
In third a further three quarters of a length away again was then Matt Lurie’s My Lucky Strike ($7.50) just ahead of the beaten favourite, Peter Snowden’s 2014 Blue Diamond entry Orujo ($3) in a forgettable fourth.
While the home track advantage worked in the winner’s favour, Oliver still had plenty of praise for Nordic Empire’s effort.
“He’s a really neat little two-year-old,” Oliver said.
“He didn’t do much wrong and looks a good pick up.
“He’s progressing nicely and if Mick can hold him together then he’s going to have a lot of fun with him in the upcoming two-year-old race.”
Price now plans to take them to Queensland on January 11 for the feature race of the Gold Coast’s Magic Millions Race Day, the $2 million Magic Millions 2YO Classic (2400m), where he believes them capable of improvement.
“I thought he was good, he was a bit off and on and he has a few things still to learn,” Price told Racing Victoria of their performance on Saturday.
“I thought the end of the race was good where he showed a nice but of stamina and I think he beat the right horse too.
“He’s athletic, his knees are good, his shins are good and he’s a real natural two-year-old type with improvement to come.”
It could prove a very lucrative pay day for the two-year-old as well as Nordic Empire is owned by a trio of women.
That makes them eligible for a share in the $500,000 bonus paid across the first four all-female owned or leased horses in this summer’s Magic Millions 2YO Classic result.
In a lead-up to the sunshine state’s Magic Millions Classic 2014 Price will run Nordic Empire in the $200,000 Magic Millions 2YO Classic (1100m) at Wyong on December 19.
The Wyong feature will also be the Gold Coast Magic Millions Classic lead-up for Price’s other hopeful, Geromayo.
A son of Charge Forward, Geromayo debuted with a fifth to Moonlight Hussler in the Listed Inglis Debutant Stakes (1000m) at Caulfield in October.
They backed up then on November 24 and finishing a braved second to Sheer Style in the $200,000 Magic Millions Clockwise Classic (1000m) in the mud at Ballarat.
While both have the $2 million feature on the agenda, Price believes Nordic Empire the better chance.
“I have worked them together and Nordic Empire had Geramayo covered,” Price said.
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