Malaguerra Bolts & Chautauqua Looms

Malaguerra ridden by Ben Melham wins the Australia Stakes at Moonee Valley on Friday (Racing Photos).

 

While the world – yes, the world – eagerly awaits the next sighting of Winx, 2017 is also shaping as a hallmark year for Australian-bred sprinters.

Australia has always been long on success over short courses and again has a profusion of sprinting talent which was clearly evidenced by the victory of Malaguerra in last Friday night’s Group Two Australia Stakes (1200m) at Moonee Valley.

Furthermore, hot on the hoof of his recognition last week as the globe’s fastest galloper, Chautauqua is poised to again make his presence felt in the autumn, racing in a trial at Warwick Farm on Tuesday morning ahead of a return to racing on 11 February.

But firstly, Malaguerra: already a dual Group One winner with a BTC Cup and Darley Classic under his girth strap, the son of Magnus put in what was arguably a career best performance in the Australia Stakes, equalling the course record set by Miss Andretti in the 2006 Manikato Stakes.

“I think he’s improving both mentally and physically,” Malaguerra’s owner, Bruno Micalizzi, enthused. “The Gelagotis boys (Peter and Manny) and their team do a fantastic job – absolutely hands on – and they really get the best out of this horse.

“He (Malaguerra) has always had ability but I also think he just keeps improving all the time.

“He didn’t have much luck in the Winterbottom in Perth, getting caught on the rail, but he showed just what a good horse he is on Friday night … Ben (Melham) didn’t even touch him with the whip and he still equalled a track record.

“We’ve had offers to take him to Dubai and to Hong Kong and I’d love to go overseas with him, but then I think to myself about all the good races here in Australia. It would be great to have a crack at a race like the TJ Smith.

“He pulled up so well after Friday and, as for his next start, he’s likely to go around in the (Group One) CF Orr Stakes at Caulfield on 11 February.

“My daughter got me tickets to go and see Usain Bolt in Melbourne on 9 February and then we’ll watch Malaguerra two days later. I had to laugh when my daughter said that ‘it will be a wonderful trip because we’ll get to see the world’s greatest sprinter and Usain Bolt too!’”

If Malaguerra’s campaign goes according to plan he could be set for a major showdown with Chautauqua in the TJ Smith and owner, Rupert Legh, reckons his lightning bolt is rippin’ and rearin’ for his return to racing.

“His dapples are dappling!,” Legh points out. “We had to bring him back in (to work) … he’s put on 40 kilos of muscle and really appears to be back to his old self. He had some tough runs last year and all the travel took its toll, but he’s only had the 24 starts and I’m confident he can return as good as ever.

“He’s due to trial at Warwick Farm on Tuesday morning and, if he comes through that OK, he’ll probably tackle the (Group Two) Rubiton Stakes over 1100m at Caulfield on 11 February.

“All things being equal, he could start in the Newmarket and then go on to attempt a third TJ Smith in a row.

“Fingers crossed, he might then go back to Hong Kong to try and replicate his (Group One) Chairman’s Sprint and maybe, just maybe, a trip this time to Royal Ascot.”

HOOFNOTE: Not surprisingly, the Chris Waller trained, Winx, was named both the world’s best horse on turf and the world’s best race mare at the Longine’s World Best Racehorse Awards in London last Tuesday night.

With a ranking of 132, the wonder mare equalled that of Black Caviar and few would argue with the rating given the nature of Winx’s second Cox Plate victory.

To have both the best sprinter and the world’s best race mare/turf horse again underlines the strength of Australian-breds on a global stage.

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