This Saturday at Caulfield Racecourse the Terry & Karina O’Sullivan-trained Magnapal will make a return from injury and surgery kicking off his Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival campaign in the Bletchingly Stakes 2016.
The rising seven-year-old son of Magnus hasn’t raced since his failed 14th behind Kiwi raider Mongolian Khan in last October’s $3 million Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m).
It was a horrid end to a stellar campaign for the gelding who enjoyed three consecutive wins including the Listed Heatherlie Handicap (1700m) in late August and the Group 3 Naturalism Stakes (2000m) at Caulfield in September before his second in the Group 3 JRA Cup (2040m) at Moonee Valley in early October.
That form led to his run in the Caulfield Cup field and is something co-trainer Terry O’Sullivan is hoping the horse can return to this time in after undergoing surgery on both front fetlocks.
Magnapal pulled up sore after his Caulfield Cup flop last season, but has been doing everything right post-surgery since and looks on track for a big first-up run in the $150,000 Group 3 Bletchingly Stakes (1200m) on Saturday.
“He had surgery to both front fetlocks, which we think has been very successful, so we’ve just given him a long, slow prep back,” O’Sullivan told Racing Victoria.
“He’ll front up in the Bletchingly on Saturday with Luke Currie on him and hopefully he’s just running on.”
Currie rode Magnapal for his three early spring wins last season as well as the JRA Cup before being replaced by Dean Yendall on the 50kg light weight in the Caulfield Cup 2015.
Magnapal is yet to win over less than 1400m and is likely to find Saturday’s sprint distance short of his liking, but the Bletchingly will be a good guide for O’Sullivan to see exactly where he is at in the early stages of his spring preparation.
“Obviously they’ll probably go a little quick for him there, but when we get back up to 2000m, that’s when we expect to see the best of him,” the Stawell-based trainer said.
The horse trialled on June 28 over 1100m on a Heavy (8) St Arnaud track in Victoria, finishing a distant last when not pushed to perform in an easy hit-out.
O’Sullivan confirmed the likely second-up target after the Bletchingly would be back at Caulfield on August 13 in the $200,000 Group 2 P.B. Lawrence Stakes (1400m) where Magnapal could face the likes of Awesome Rock and Miss Rose De Lago along with fellow Saturday rival The Cleaner.
“He’ll run in the Bletchingly and then perhaps the PB Lawrence and then we’ll step him out to a bit of ground,” he said.
“We’ll see what happens after Saturday and play it a little bit by ear.”
Obviously O’Sullivan would love to see Magnapal given a chance to atone with a second Caulfield Cup run on October 15, but the stayer’s form would determine whether or not he got that opportunity.
“We’ll have a look at all our options, we’ll certainly nominate him for the Caulfield Cup,” he said.
“There’s nothing definite at this stage but that would certainly be on the agenda.
“I think he’ll run a strong mile-and-a-half out, he’s already proven he can, so that’s where we’re hoping to get with him.
“He’s improved as he’s matured – he’s had a really nice spell and I think he’s going really, really good.”
Magnapal is currently rated a $101 roughie in all-in Caulfield Cup betting at Ladbrokes.com.au – home of the season’s best futures Group 1 racing odds!