Godolphin’s venture back into the Australian yearling sale market last year paid immediate dividends on Saturday when blue blood filly Exhilarates stormed to victory in the $2 million The Star Gold Coast Magic Millions 2YO Classic (1200m).
After failing to muster upon jumping from the barriers, the daughter of Snitzel - the first of progeny of dual Group 1 winner Samaready to hit the racetrack - let loose with a dazzling turn of speed from near last at the 400m to reel in Dubious and Hightail in the final 50m of the race.
In Sheikh Mohammed’s first venture into the Australian yearling market in eight years, Godolphin paid $600,000 for the filly from Vinery Stud’s draft at the 2018 Magic Millions Gold Coast Yearling Sale.
Trainer James Cummings, who joined his Hall of Fame grandfather Bart Cummings on the Magic Million Classic honour roll, was quick to praise both the filly’s professionalism and the composure of jockey Kerrin McEvoy.
“We came back to the sales 12 months ago and we only bought about a half a dozen yearlings,” Cummings said.
“Vin Cox set me the task to come back and win it (Magic Millions Classic) this year and we’ve achieved that and this is only the start.
“I’ve had a couple of European imports come into the stable and the boys have a laugh that I’ll enjoy training them but it can sometimes be forgotten that Bart was a great trainer of two-year-olds and I’ve been able to learn from him, as well as my father.
“She got squeezed at the start but she’s experienced and she’s seasoned which is what we set out to do with her.
“She knew how to get it back together, Kerrin McEvoy kept his cool and when she got that spilt at the top of the straight, I knew that she had the fitness to kick into overdrive.
“We’ve bought another handful (of yearlings) this year and we’re just thrilled to be not only involved in Australian racing but to be a real part of it by supporting Australian breeders.”
The win continued an incredible season for McEvoy, who won his second Everest on Redzel in October and his third Melbourne Cup aboard Cross Counter for Godolphin in November.
“It’s a huge buzz to win my first Magic Millions race and I’m lucky enough to do it again in Sheikh Mohammed’s blue colours,” McEvoy said.
“What a little gem of a filly.
“She didn’t jump great today and I was a long way back but they were running along and I got onto the back on Hughie (Bowman) at the 600m.
“I needed her to sprout wings and that’s what she did, she flew the last 400m.”
Connections of Ciaron Maher and David Eustace’s runner-up Dubious took home the major $325,000 prize as part of the Magic Millions Racing Women Bonus. Others to scoop the bonuses were the connections of Champagne Boom ($100,000), Courseshewill ($50,000) and Gala Miss ($25,000).
Kerrin McEvoy salutes on Exhilarates, picture Stevehart.com.au