Tassie match race eclipses Hobart Cup

4 min read

By Bren O'Brien

On the final meeting before the old Elwick track is reconstructed, it is the Listed Magic Millions Thomas Lyons not the Group 3 TAB Hobart Cup which has created significant anticipation ahead of one of Tasmania's biggest racedays.

While the Hobart Cup has the prizemoney and the history, the pending battle of Tasmania's best two horses Hellova Street (Helike {USA}) and Mystic Journey (Needs Further) over the 1400m of the Thomas Lyons is capturing the headlines.

Hobart, Listed Magic Millions Thomas Lyons, 1400m, $100,000

Hellova Street is firmly the defending champion, being the winner of not only this race the past two years, but having also been crowned the Tasmanian Horse Of The Year for two years running.

Mystic Journey, however, has emerged as a genuine star, winning at Listed and Group 2 level in Melbourne in the past six months before returning with a scintillating win in the Lady Lynettte S at Launceston last month.

Both horses are headed towards the All-Star Mile, with Mystic Journey currently 16th in the public vote for $5m race, while Hellova Street is 19th, with just under 600 fewer votes.

Hellova Street may be eight but showed he has lost none of his dash when an easy winner at this track last time out, his eighth win from 11 starts at what is essentially his home track.

Mystic Journey hails from the north of the state and has been to Elwick on just two occasions, both for wins as a 2-year-old.

Hellova Street's trainer Scott Brunton said his star galloper is going as good as ever.

"I couldn't be happier with him. He seems to be right on track against new opposition in a sense," he said.

"She (Mystic Journey) is well rounded. She's had ten starts, she knows the run of things but for my bloke it's his own backyard."

Brunton said that the All-Star Mile in five weeks remains his major target with Hellova Street.

"It’s of massive importance that he runs a big race to try and get into the All-Star Mile, but more importantly if he wins the race, he cracks the $1 million which is massive importance for a horse like him."

But the Seven Mile Beach trainer won't buy into the match race talk, saying the remarkably consistent Victoria raider Chamois Road (Choisir) can not be discounted.

Four-time stakes-winner I'm Wesley (I Am Invincible) is the other horse afforded a chance, but he was beaten on his merits by Hellova Street last time out.

Hobart, G3 TAB Hobart Cup, 2400m, $250,000

The Hobart Cup looks a battle between Victorian pair Al Galayel (Zoffany {Ire}) and Lamborghini (NZ) (Shinko King {Ire}) and local prospects Eastender (Tickets) and Count da Vinci (NZ) (Faltaat).

Al Galayal is prepared by Ciaron Maher and David Eustace and has been in great form with two wins and two seconds in his past four Melbourne starts, while Lamborghini has won three of his past four.

Eastender was victorious in the recent Devonport Cup before narrowly beating Count Da Vinci over the 2200m at Hobart last time.

Brunton said Count Da Vinci has made good progress since that race and is on track to re-capture the Cup he won in 2017.

"He's A1 since his last run. I'm really happy with the way he's come through it. He looks fantastic. He missed a run leading into that race. He was third up over 2200m, which wasn't ideal for the prep he had," he said.

"As with every good horse, they cover it up for you, He's come out shining the other side and he's well weighted and he's about to peak. He's going as good if not better than ever.

Hobart, Listed Strathayr Strutt S, 2100m, $100,000

The Strutt S. is a traditional lead in to the Tasmanian Oaks at Launceston on February 24 and Godolphin presents Rock Dove (Epaulette), who looks set for some easy black-type.

Shady Hustle (Hussonet {USA}) has won her last three, including the Tasmanian Thousand Guineas last time out and appears the main rival.

Henry Dwyer and Maher and Eustace also bring contenders from interstate in True Magic (Pierro) and Dream Big (Dream Ahead {USA}) respectively.