Aaron Bullock has never ridden a Metropolitan winner but could now be heading to the $2m Magic Millions Classic after he piloted Jonker ($4) to a dominant victory in the $200,000 Wyong race.
The Spirit Of Boom colt, trained at Newcastle by David Atkins, rocketed into $3.60 Magic Millions favouritism following his impressive four and a quarter length victory.
Bullock said after the race he had been thrilled to maintain the ride on Jonker following his debut win at Newcastle and would love to continue his association with the colt at the Gold Coast.
“It would be great to ride him up there. I wasn’t sure if I’d keep the ride today, so to keep the ride on the Gold Coast would be a great thrill,” Bullock said.
“I knew from the time I first rode him and trialled him he just had that much improvement in him and he’s still improving.
“He’s just a horse that travels really well and I knew the track would suit him.”
Bullock said he had decided to keep Jonker on the outside after the pattern in earlier races.
“He actually slipped at the start because he jumps so quick and it was a bit shifty. Luckily he regained his footing straight away.
“I was happy to take the sit because I watched all the races up until now and for some reason they were racing three metres in but nothing was winning from there.
“It played out perfectly. I could of elected to go to the inside if I wanted but I stayed on the outside and he let down so well. “
Doug Crich, a long-term client of the Atkins stable, purchased Jonker for $45,000 and formed a syndicate.
Atkins said he had always had a good opinion of the colt and believes there is still further improvement in him.
“I always liked him but his second jump out was very sharp and I thought he might be something handy,” he said.
“Then he trialled and got better and better and probably can still improve a bit more.
“He’s got great manners for a colt, he’s perfect and doesn’t do a thing wrong.”
Atkins said he had been quietly confident during the race after Bullock was able to take the sit behind La Pomme De Pin.
“The leader was free running and we had a nice hold on him. Gai’s came up three wide but we were travelling better than it and he was always going to be hard to beat from there.
“It was great for the owners who are a good group of blokes. It is great to win a good race like this for them.
“He will head straight to the Gold Coast now. The three weeks will be perfect for him. The 1200m won’t worry him at all. It will suit him perfectly.”
The Clarry Connors trained Skyray ($21) was second, with Bondi ($3.70) from the Snowden stable a long neck behind in third.
The Hawkes trained Wild Heart ($4.60) is heading for the Gold Coast following his win in the $100,000 WYONG MAGIC MILLIONS 3YO & 4YO STAKES.
Gary Portelli’s Single Bullet ($4.80) looked to have the race won after fighting off race favourite Arbeitsam at the top of the straight.
Wild Heart and Brenton Avdulla had other ideas, storming down the outside to snatch a half-length victory on the line.
It was only the second career victory for Wild Heart, a $170,000 yearling purchase, who won a two-year-old race at Warwick Farm in June.
Tania Rouse, representing the Hawkes stable, said it was likely they would now head to the 3YO Classic on January 13.
“Provided he pulls up alright I’d imagine he will head to the Gold Coast,” she said.
“We are delighted with the win today. He’s a horse that races well fresh. The pace was on early and Brenton gave him a gun ride, just let them do what they wanted to do in front and he finished the race off really well through the line.
“Single Bullet was travelling really well on the turn but our fellow was tracking into it really nicely behind him.
“Once he knocked them down in the straight he stretched out really well.”
Rouse said last preparation Wild Heart had worked through his grades and his runs were all really credible.
Avdulla said it was a great effort by Wild Heart to snatch victory over Single Bullet.
“He travelled very sweetly, he’s a completely different horse than in trackwork. He is really switching on and they had him perfectly prepared today,” he said.
“I probably could have been a bit closer but I had the back of Single Bullet all the way and I was pretty confident from a long way out.
“It was a good effort to run Single Bullet down. They tried to put me away on the corner but my bloke stuck to his guns and ran well to the line.
“He’s still learning and I like him. I think 1400m will be right up his alley.”
Another perfectly timed Avdulla ride secured victory for the Godolphin trained Barbeque in the 1350m DNR ELECTRICAL BM 73 Handicap.
The win by the three-year-old Helmet gelding brought up a race to race double for Avdulla, who joked he had followed Tye Angland in both races and owned him “cartage fees.”
Avdulla had settled Barbeque toward the rear of the field before steaming down the outside in the final stages to secure a head victory.
Angland’s mount He’s A Given ($5.50) was second, with the Jeff Englebrecht trained Hammond Lane ($8), a neck behind in third.
Darren Beadman, representing the Cummings stable said he believed there were better things in store for Barbeque after notching up his second win.
“It’s great for the team. When Brenton got him to the outside I was confident. He doesn’t like to be cluttered up so he was sitting back there for the first part of the race doing it easy and moved into it at the right time,” Beadman said.
“It was a good ride by Brenton, he judged that one to a nicety. The form around this horse has been very good. The horses that he beat have been winning.
“He’s a pretty handy type with hopefully bigger things in store for him.”
Avdulla said the horse was in perfect order.
“The speed was on and I was always confident he’d get into the race. My instructions were to give him a bit of room so I got him to the outside he finished off well.”
Matthew Smith is unlikely to head to the Gold Coast with his promising filly Aqua D’Ivina ($1.60) despite her impressive debut win in the MAINSTREAM TAXATION & ACCOUNTANCY MAIDEN HANDICAP over 1350m.
The Pierro three-year-old justified her short-priced favouritism, putting two lengths on her rivals.
Corey Brown settled Aqua D’Ivina midfield before sweeping wide on the turn and drawing away in the straight for an effortless win.
The filly is raced by an all-girls syndicate, including prominent owner Christine Cook and an excited group of owners greeted her when she returned to scale.
“We love the Magic Millions all girls thing, seeing as though we won it once and we decided seeing Mr Cook has his own colours we’d design ours with diamonds because diamonds are a girl’s best friend,” Cook said.
“It’s the first time I’ve been on track when the colours have won so I’m so excited.”
Cook’s husband Francis purchased Aqua D’Ivina for $150,000 at the 2016 sales.
Matthew Smith said he would likely resist the lure of the Gold Coast in January and target a 1600m Metropolitan race.
“I’ll probably give her a run over a mile and then get her ready for the autumn, “ Smith said.
“We think she’s a really nice filly and hopefully when we get her over a bit of ground she’ll make a nice horse.
“Her dam was a winner of 2000m and being by Pierro she should handle more distance.
“She just still learning what it’s all about. I’ve got an opinion of her so we’ll take our time with her and hopefully get some black type with her down the track.”
Smith said he had opted to scratch from Canterbury on Wednesday because he had been concerned about the high temperatures.
“I was really worried about the heat yesterday because she’s a really hot filly as it is so we got lucky with the weather today.
“She’s a Magic Millions graduate and I’m keen to get up there and get a few more.”
Second favourite Auerbach ($4.20) from the Waller stable was second, with Lee Curtis’ Voodoo Lady ($17) a half length behind in third.
Tony Newing attributed a quick back-up as the telling factor in a win by Ghetto Boy ($5.50) in the 856 BOBS ELIGIBLE YEARINGS@GOLD COAST BENCHMARK 65 HANDICAP (1650m).
The Street Sense gelding started favourite over 1400m at Coffs Harbour last Friday but courtesy of a tough run failed to produce, finishing back in the field.
“They went 100 miles an hour at Coffs and he was five and six deep doing it tough,” Newing said.
“He came home and did well. This looked like a good race and it certainly turned out that way.
“A great, patient ride by Mitchell (Bell) helped as well.”
“It took a long time for him to find form. He goes well enough but he’s definitely a thinker and the quick back-up might of toughened him up.”
Newing said he would likely look for another country race for Ghetto Boy, who now has three wins and four placings from 18 starts.
The win was even sweeter for Gosford-based Newing who races the five-year-old with breeder Stephen Clarke.
Bell said the tempo of the race had set it up for Ghetto Boy.
“It was run at a nice clip and he improved from the 600m,” he said.
“It was a nice honest race and that’s what he needed. Those sit and sprint type of races wouldn’t of helped him.”
In a close finish Ghetto Boy beat the Allan Kehoe trained Billy Can ($4.20) by a long neck, with another Wyong galloper The Iron Maiden, trained by Jeff Englebrecht ($6).
The Gary Moore trained Auchentoman, named after a Chinese whiskey, broke through for his debut win in the 1000m TWIN LAKES AIR CONDITIONING PTY LTD MAIDEN PLATE.
In a nailbiting three-way finish the Denman gelding scored a head victory over the fast finishing Fudgewedge ($41) trained by Allan Kehoe, with Allez Rev ($21), a half neck behind in third.
Moore said the ride by Tim Clark and a change in tactics contributed to the win at the three-year-olds third career start.
“It was a great ride. He trialled very well about 10 days ago and we went into this race with a fair amount of confidence,” Moore said.
“We decided to ride him back today. Last preparation we led on him and he didn’t finish it off.”
Moore said they knew Auchentoman had ability but were left unsure when he failed to produce in his two runs last preparation.
“We were disappointed after his last preparation thinking he was better than that. We went into his first race at Rosehill very confident, led on him but he just faltered.
“He’s a late foal and he’s come back in great shape.”
Moore said he had no immediate plans for the gelding but would likely step him up to 1200m.
“We will put him through the grades and see how we go. “
Clark said Auchentoman had come back more mature and was well-prepared for his first-up run.
“It was a bit of a struggle early but once the horse got to outside he knuckled down and got to the line well.”
Patience has been the key for the David Pfieffer trained Tswalu who returned to the track with a win after overcoming a throat operation.
The five-year-old mare had laser surgery mid-year and then two trials, including a strong win at Rosehill on December 8, which saw her installed as 3.60 equal favourite for the Wyong C.I.A CLASS 1 HANDICAP (1200m).
Corey Brown, bookended the meeting, coming home over the top of the Pat Webster trained Sovereign Eminence ($18) to win by a short neck.
In yet another close finish, High Tranquility ($9.50) trained by John Sargent was a short head behind in third.
Pfieffer said Tswalu had always shown plenty of ability and it was great to get her back to the races.
“Her last trial was really impressive and I was keen to see how she would go today, ”he said.
“She had minor surgery for a wind problem and it took her longer than we expected for her to get over it.
“It is just good to see the patience of the owners paying off.”
Brown said the mare had been slow away and never really travelled like she was going to win.
“It wasn’t until the last part of the race that she really got into it.
“She had a good blow afterwards and will improve heaps from this.”
The victory gave Tswalu, by Northern Meteor, her third win from seven starts.