Grand vision intact as McEvoy filly embarks for MM
Sizzling filly Grand Scholar will travel to Brisbane on Tuesday night as preparations ramp up towards the $2 million Magic Millions Guineas at Gold Coast on January 11.
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Trainer Tony McEvoy had hoped to travel the precocious daughter of Wandjina sooner but aborted plans due to the lingering smoke haze from devastating bushfires along the eastern seaboard.
Grand Scholar, who is undefeated from three starts as a three-year-old, firmed $26 to $11 with TAB for the MM Guineas after giving rivals a six-length galloping lesson at The Valley.
"She's in the zone that girl, I'm very, very happy with her," McEvoy, who claimed the 2018 Magic Millions 2YO Classic with Sunlight, said.
"Things will get a bit tougher for her from here but she's a quality filly and I'm looking forward to getting her up there.
"She'll have one more run up before the Guineas."
McEvoy will use the Group 3 Vo Rogue Plate (1350m) or Listed Nudgee Stakes (1200m), both on December 28 at Doomben, to put the finishing touches on Grand Scholar before her match race with Guineas hot pot Alligator Blood.
McEvoy expects Grand Scholar, who "jarred up" and finished second last in the Group 2 BRC Sires' Produce at Eagle Farm last May, to put in a better account of herself this time in.
"She pulled up sore after that race and was very jarred up, just immature," McEvoy said.
"We went there off a good run at Caulfield … she ran second last and just didn't go."
Grand Scholar spearheads a three-pronged Victorian contingent targeting the $2 million feature, including King Of Hastings ($17) and Dubious ($26).
Ciaron Maher and David Eustace-trained Dubious will be seven weeks between runs for the Guineas.
Dubious fought on well to finish sixth in the Group 1 Winterbottom Stakes in Perth last start.
The $1 million earner, who thrives on top of the ground, finished runner-up in the Magic Millions Classic last year behind swooping filly Exhilarates.
But impressive three-year-old gelding Alligator Blood, who returned a winner at Eagle Farm last Saturday following a six-week break, remains the benchmark and should take a power of beating.
The David Vandyke-trained juvenile star is rated with the best three-year-old's in Australia.
Vandyke has Alligator Blood pencilled in for the Vo Rogue, a fortnight before the Guineas, but the "jewel in the crown" is still the Group 1 Australian Guineas at Flemington next year.
The $765,250 earner, who was nabbed on the post in the Group 1 Caulfield Guineas, is also nominated for the $5 million All Star Mile on March 14.
BLINKERS IN BID TO FIND SPEED
Trainer David Eustace hopes blinkers can bring the best out of $670,000 Magic Millions colt Anders ahead of Saturday's $125,000 QTIS 2YO Plate at Eagle Farm.
The Ciaron Maher-Eustace yard won the corresponding race last year with Dubious, who went on to run second in the $2 million Magic Millions Classic.
Anders, by Not A Single Doubt, the same sire as Dubious, won an 800m trial at Kembla Grange last week with the shades applied for first time.
Anders has not been to the races since fading to finish a disappointing fourth on October 26 at Randwick.
"He's trialled up well since with blinkers on," Eustace said.
"He's a horse (we) always thought a bit of, but he was a bit disappointing."
Anders settled third last in the eight-horse trial but once in clear galloping room surged past rivals, including Gimcrack runner-up Stellar Pauline, under a hold from jockey Brodie Loy.
The two-year-old colt Anders must show something on Saturday for the Maher-Eustace yard to turn the screws towards the Magic Millions race day on January 11.
"He's a Millions' horse and if he shows up and does what we're hoping he can do then we're very hopeful (about his potential)," Eustace said.
RV MOVES TO AVOID HEAT
Racing Victoria has brought forward race times for Wednesday's Caulfield and Bairnsdale meetings to avoid the worst of the extreme heat forecast across the state.
Caulfield was originally a twilight meeting, but the Bureau of Meteorology has advised the hottest part of the day will be the twilight period.
The eight-race card will now start at 11am. The last race is scheduled for 2.40pm.
The Bairnsdale meeting has been brought forward one hour.
The first race is at 12.10pm and the last at 3.50pm.
Racing NSW has tinkered with its weekend schedule, transferring Saturday's Warwick Farm meeting to Randwick.
With temperatures tipped to reach 45C in Sydney's western suburbs, officials moved the meeting hoping to get more favourable conditions closer to the coast.