Flying Sydney-based hoop James McDonald capped off a very memorable Epsom Handicap Day with his fifth win for John O’Shea and the Godolphin stable taking out the card closer in The Metropolitan 2015 with race favourite Magic Hurricane.
The bookies got slaughtered at Royal Randwick on Saturday with all but one of the nine races won by the shorties in the markets including the last when in-form Hurricane Run six-year-old Magic Hurricane got the job done for the punters in the $750,000 Group 1 McGrath Estate Agents Metropolitan (2400m).
Stepping up to the mile and a half for the first time down under, the progressive import came off a string of good Sydney runs this prep including the last start second in the Group 2 Hill Stakes (2000m) with McDonald aboard a fortnight ago.
O’Shea had the galloper in peak form for this targeted feature, Magic Hurricane’s chances of The Metropolitan success soaring as soon as the barriers came out.
Jumping from barrier one was key to the horse’s chances as he was able to settle midfield off the pace, switch off and save his energy for the big finish.
“Beautiful,” McDonald said to sum up the win.
“Gate one was so important for us to win this race. As soon as the barrier came out I thought ‘Yeah Baby!’”
It was a good level start from the field with the John Thompson-trained Orbec going up to make the running and lead while McDonald slotted Magic Hurricane into a handy position on the fence early.
Orbec led from Gai Waterhouse’s Grafton Cup winner Bonfire who rolled up to settle second from Maurus with Chance To Dance in fourth.
With 600m to go Magic Hurricane was running six, McDonald biding his time with the proven mile and half winner while stablemate Havana Cooler was giving away a big start approaching the turn for home.
On the straight Magic Hurricane ($3.10) sliced his way through the field going up on the inside to take the lead and draw away beating home a brave Chris Waller-trained top weight in Beaten Up ($10) who carried the 58kg into second just ahead of genuine staying type Havana Cooler ($11) ridden by Joao Moreira.
Godolphin had the star of the Epsom Handicap Day show in Golden Rose winner Exosphere who proved his class with a Roman Consul Stakes success on way to Melbourne and finished with Magic Hurricane also earning a trip south with his Group 1 victory for the powerhouse racing operation.
“I’ve never done anything remotely like it,” O’Shea said of the five Epsom Day victories.
“It’s about the quality of the horses I get to train.
“I’m humbled by the opportunity.
“We knew we had the horses right, it was just a matter of Mac (James McDonald) putting them in the right spot.
“It’s my job also to make sure the jockeys you put on these horses are the best available…everyone knows how highly I think of Mac.”
Havana Cooler was also good in defeat for O’Shea, the import looking well suited for a longer staying feature perhaps up to the two miles in a provincial cup over the coming weeks.
The run to celebrate and the lovely training performance of the race though was Magic Hurricane who could now join stablemates Complacent and Hauraki, who ran the quinella in the Craven Plate, in the $3 million Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) on October 17.
Magic Hurricane is currently well down the Caulfield Cup ballot allocated just 50kg, O’Shea hoping a penalty for his The Metropolitan win will be enough to get him into the classic.
“I think hopefully Magic’s made his way into it (the Caulfield Cup),” he said.
“He’s just coming right and his run today will have him at his top.
“I don’t know how he stands in terms of he’ll have to get the penalty and whether it’ll be enough but if they’re happy enough to have him, we’d love to run him.”
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2015 The Metropolitan Results & Finishing Order
Randwick Race 9 – 03/10/2015