Cover image courtesy of Ashlea Brennan
Written by Georgie Dennis
Two of Ciaron Maher and David Eustace’s leading Magic Millions Race Day contingent, Away Game (Snitzel) and Fake Love (I Am Invincible), turned up for their respective Saturday week targets at the Gold Coast on Tuesday morning and were both impressive in winning their respective trials.
First cab off the rank was Fake Love, who contested the first heat of the morning over 900 metres.
Contesting just two other horses, the filly was quick out of the gates but was restrained by jockey Glen Boss and was taken back to last before peeling out at the top of the straight and showing an impressive turn of foot to run home and win by 1l.
Maher said he was pleased to see Fake Love adapt to a change of racing style and hopes she can add that string to her bow for the R. Listed Magic Millions 2YO Classic next Saturday.
Watch: Fake Love trial
“She was great,” Maher told TDN AusNZ. “It was only a three-horse trial so there wasn’t much speed but we wanted to ride her with a sit because she’s very natural, clean and fast but we wanted to see what her turn of foot would be like.
“So it was a good opportunity and Glen was very happy. She broke fast and when he asked her to come back, I thought she was going to fight him like she did at the first start in the blinkers, but she didn’t.
“She came back really nicely and then quickened well, so he was wrapt with her also.”
“She (Fake Love) came back really nicely and then quickened well, so he (Glen Boss) was wrapt with her also.” - Ciaron Maher
All three of Fake Love’s career starts have been over 1000 metres but Maher doesn’t think the extra 200 metres of the 2YO Classic will be an issue for her.
“I think it will suit her. It’s around the Gold Coast so it’s not like Flemington or Randwick with the big straight, so that speed will probably make it a cheaper six furlongs and Glen was very confident in her.”
Last year’s 2YO Classic winner Away Game stepped out in the second heat of the morning and was also clean out of the gates for Boss, before settling in the lead, quickening in the straight and holding on to win by 0.3l.
R. Listed Magic Millions 3YO Guineas favourite Isotope (Deep Field) also featured in the heat and she settled in the one out, one back position, on the back of Away Game.
She was asked to do a bit more than her rival and quickened up at the top of the straight before running home to finish third, less than 1l behind Away Game.
Watch: Away Game trial
Maher said that effort would bring on his filly nicely ahead of her target race next Saturday.
“She was good and she had a nice little blow,” the trainer said. “The first-up run will bring her on and we’re very happy with her.
“Glen knows her quite well now and has been on her quite a few times, and he said she needed that but she’s definitely going the right way.”
The Magic Millions 3YO Guineas is run over 1400 metres which will mean it will be Away Game's first run over a trip longer than 1200 metres, however, Maher said the filly has given him every indication that the distance will be no problem.
“I was quite keen to hear Glen's thoughts and he was very confident that she would run the seven furlongs.”
“I was quite keen to hear Glen's thoughts and he was very confident that she would run the seven furlongs.” - Ciaron Maher
Having had another look at Isotope, Maher believes she is also a quality horse and is looking forward to a re-match between her and Away Game.
“Isotope was great last start,” he said. “Obviously Away Game hadn’t run for a while so she’ll definitely improve. Isotope definitely had the match fitness but they’re two quality horses.”
Can lightning strike twice?
It’s an exciting week ahead for Hannah Mathiesen and her family, who own shares in both Away Game and Fake Love and while she is back in her home country in America and can’t be trackside to watch her fillies go around at the Gold Coast, she said the nerves are beginning to build.
“It’s been really exciting to see the two of them progress,” Mathiesen told TDN AusNZ. “Away Game coming back, it seems like she just keeps getting better and keeps getting stronger. After her trial today, Glen Boss seemed super positive.
"It sounds like she’ll be forward from whatever gate she draws and hopefully she can get it done.
“And then Fake Love is just an honest little filly and he (Boss) said similar things about her.”
Mathiesen purchased Away Game, with Kerri Radcliffe, at the 2018 Magic Millions Gold Coast Yearling Sale, before returning to the Magic Millions National Weanling Sale later that year and securing Fake Love.
While she can’t be on the ground at this year’s Magic Millions Sale, Mathiesen is still working hard with Maher and his team and is utilising all the online information to find another Fake Love or Away Game at next week’s Sale.
“The good news is Ciaron and Will (Bourne) and everyone from Ciaron Maher Racing is at the Sale now so I’ve been chatting with them a lot. We’ll compare our lists and I trust them a lot to be able to find us a nice, fast filly for the race next year.
"We’ll compare our lists and I trust them a lot to be able to find us a nice, fast filly for the race next year." - Hannah Mathiesen
“We’ll hopefully be able to come together and get something bought, ideally another filly.
“Every morning the first thing I do is go on the Magic Millions website and look at the new videos posted, so now I feel like I’ve got a pretty good grasp of a lot of the horses that are in the Sale.
“I have a list to be able to give to Ciaron so that he can tell me his thoughts on them from seeing them in person, but it’s great just to have that ability to see them, at least a little bit, before the Sale.”
Formerly working in the communications department for Ciaron Maher Racing during her time in Australia, Mathiesen is still involved as the operation’s US Representative.