Friday, January 27, 2023

Fantastic Baby too strong in Cup prelude at Port

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Adam Duggan, trainer of Fantastic Baby. Photo: Rod Fuller

A gutsy victory by Fantastic Baby in the Stowe Australia Port Macquarie Cup Prelude on Sunday has propelled the Adam Duggan trained gelding into serious calculations for the club’s feature race in early October.

The son of Zoustar had the task of chasing Convinced for most of the event but Matt McGuren didn’t panic and was able to peel around the leaders approaching the home bend before kicking clear in the straight and withstanding the strong finishing burst of Battle Guardian to score a tenacious victory.

The run of Battle Guardian was meritorious after finishing down the crown of the track while the Greg Preston trained gelding, Convinced, dictated terms in the lead and battled on well to hold third placing in front of Holburt.

Relucent was dispatched as a firm elect but didn’t settle in the early stages of the race and failed to fire despite a positive ride from Ben Looker while Onemore Sapphire made up good ground down the outside to finish just behind the placegetters.

The top two placegetters are now exempt from the ballot for the $200,000 Port Macquarie Cup on Friday 8 October with Fantastic Baby and Battle Guardian possessing undeniable chances in a race shaping up to be full of class competitors.  

Harvey’s Way drifted noticeably in the opening event, but the David Atkins trained gelding finished powerfully from the centre of the field to give the well supported favourite, Galbalan, a start before racing clear to score by just under a length for Lee Magorrian.

The combination completed the double when Xiaoli’s Ying led throughout later in the program to score a solid victory over Tequila Cabos in the John Oxley Motors Handicap.

Norwegian Bliss was heavily supported in the Gemlife Maiden Handicap and the daughter of El Roca provided plenty of encouragement for the Nathan Doyle stable with an impressive victory over Thunder Rose and Zelberg.

Paul Shailer recently relocated to Port Macquarie and the former Queensland foreman to the Chris Waller stable presented his first trained runner in the shape of Swing the Tide in the third race but was had to be content with a strong second behind Elected.

Elected is one of the strong Kris Lees team and was given no peace in the early stages of the event by Mr Cosmic before maintaining the lead to score by around a length.

The victory continues a wonderful riding period of Jeff Penza who took out the major races at Newcastle a fortnight ago including Ashman in the Cameron Handicap and Great House in the Newcastle Gold Cup.

Shailer had to be content with a further second in race four when his Vancouver gelding, Laphroaig, couldn’t arrest the lead from Auvergne with the Dale Wagstaff trained mare scored by just under two lengths.

The final event proved a blow out for punters when Stylish Pattern scored for trainer, John Sprague, at the juicy odds of $31 with a positive ride by Matthew Bennett resulting in the son of Canford Cliff withstanding the strong finishing burst of Contributingfactor and Lord Jaysea to score by a head.

Racing was conducted under overcast skies and the persistent rain throughout the afternoon caused a downgrading of the track to a soft seven reading with some advantage provided for horses racing near the lead.

The club is greatly appreciative of the support provided by valued sponsors including Stowe Australia, John Oxley Motors, De Bortoli Wines, Tabcorp, Gemlife, Schweppes and Carlton Dry with the club delighted to continue their association with these fine organisations.

The stage is now set for a wonderful carnival of racing commencing on Friday 8 October 2021 with the running of the club’s flagship meeting highlighted by the $200,000 Port Macquarie Cup, the $80,000 Birdon Group Sprint and the $50,000 Hastings Cup.

Racing continues Saturday 9 October with a well-balanced TAB program catering for most classes of horse and offering $168,000 in prizemoney.

Further details regarding whether people other than participants and essential workers will be allowed into the track on cup day will be conveyed well in advance of the carnival and all attendance criteria will be available at, by contacting the club on 02 6581 1964 or email on



All the support in the opening event was for Galbalan with the Tony Newing trained gelding confidently supported into an odds-on favourite over Threetimeslucky with punters prepared to take risks with Harvey’s Way as the debutant drifted noticeably.

Galbalan set the early tempo and was a clear leader from Into the Blue and Poet’s Octave with Seneiche and Buckin’ Rippa making ground approaching the home bend.

Jenny Duggan still maintained the lead in the run for the judge on Galbalan and was able to pinch a break before Lee Magorrian extricated off the rails and into the clear from the centre of the field to challenge.

Harvey’s Way finished over the top of Galbalan, and the David Atkins trained gelding was able to race clear to score by just under a length with Senseiche battling on for third in front of Buckin’ Rippa.

Race 2 – GEMLIFE F&M MAIDEN HCP (1100 M)

Norwegian Bliss was backed to the exclusion of all other runners and the Nathan Doyle trained mare was the ruling elect for the event with the weight of money for the favourite causing Virtuous Miss to drift while Thunder Rose was on the third line of betting in front of Tilly’s Love.

Thunder Rose set the pace in front from Zelberg and Only Need Time with Ash Morgan continuing to improve from a wide barrier on Norwegian Bliss and worked towards the leading division approaching the home turn.

Norwegian Bliss quickly rounded up Thunder Rose down the running and the Nathan Doyle trained debutant was able to race clear for an impressive victory from Thunder Rose and Zelberg.

Virtuous Miss travelled in the middle of the field and made good ground in the straight to finish just behind the placegetters.


Elected was the ruling favourite at barrier rise with a significant betting move for Swing the Tide propelling the Paul Shailer trained mare into a second pick while Wiki and Pulitzer Prize drifted in the market.

Elected raced to the early lead but Jeff Penza had no peace when Mr Cosmic raced with the gelding until the home turn and Wiki continued to make ground around Swing the Tide while Pulitzer Prize settled at the tail of the field.

When Mr Cosmic couldn’t sustain the early effort, Elect dashed clear and was able to withstand the finishing effort of Swing the Tide to score by just over a length with Miss Amari finishing well out wide to land the minor placing in front of Supreme Vision, Wiki and Pulitzer Prize.

Race 4 – TAB.COM.AU BENCHMARK 58 HCP (1500 M)

Hubble was the solidly supported favourite in a wide market over Charlie’s Law and Condover Hall with Sound and Vision attracting some wagering at value prices.

Auvergne camped just behind Charlie’s in the early stages of the event before Darryl McLellan made his move on the Dale Wagstaff trained mare approaching the final turn.

Laphroaig settled at the tail of the field and made up many lengths down the crown of the track for an eye catching second with Charlie’s Law battled on well for third.

Hubble was wide throughout and ran a creditable performance to finish on the back of the placegetters while Sound and Vision wilted over the concluding stages after racing on the speed.  


There was plenty of confidence around the chances of Freddie Eddie and the Grant Marshall trained gelding was backed into a firm favourite with Tequila Cabos and Jazzles kept safe in betting while Pocket Pistol was a noticeable drifter over Jaytees.

Lee Magorrian utilised the early speed of Xiaoli’s Ying and allowed the daughter of Poet’s Voice to find the lead before being attacked by Pocket Pistol with Tequila Cabos finding the rails in third place over Grated Coconut and Outreach Belle.

Xiaoli’s Ying was able to kick clear down the home running to score a comprehensive victory over Tequila Cabos, who maintained her ground along the rails with Jazzles working home well for the minor prize.

Outreach Belle covered plenty of additional ground in the run and finished just behind the placegetters while Freddie Eddie travelled wide throughout and failed to finish the race off.


Relucent was the firm favourite for the Prelude with strong support for Fantastic Baby and Onemoresapphire while the other runners were into double figures headed by Battle Guardian.

Convinced raced to the early lead before Matt McGuren moved up to challenge from his wide barrier on Fantastic Baby and settled in second place from Holburt while Relucent was over racing just off the speed.

Battle Guardian settled in the centre of the pack around Galway with Onemoresapphire racing together with Real Time Warrior while Ready by Design dropped back to the tail of the field.

Convinced was first for home before being claimed by Fantastic Baby and the Adam Duggan trained gelding was able to survive the finishing burst of Battle Guardian to score by just under a length.

Convinced held on for third from Holburt with Ready by Design doing his best work late while Relucent tired badly over the concluding stages and finished well back.


Contributingfactor tightened a point and was the ruling elect from the event with a spirited move for Our Cousin Al causing Kensington Kid to drift while Just Ziggy attracted some supporters at longer prices.

Kensington Kid began well and raced to the early lead before Just Ziggy worked along the rails to challenge with Okay Boss scouting wide and Stylish Pattern camped just behind the pacemakers with Hercules Mo.

Matt Bennett peeled around the leaders on the home turn and the John Sprague trained gelding was able to withstand the solid finishing burst of Contributingfactor to score by a head with Lord Jaysea running his usual honest race to grab the minor prize.

Allez Rev worked to the line well to figure just behind the placegetters while Kensington Kid wilted badly and Our Cousin Al was well back for most of the journey and failed to make up genuine ground over the concluding stages.

Horses to follow

Swing the Tide, Laphroaig, Contributing Factor



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