Magic Pharoah delivered Lou Mary his third Highway Handicap win when storming home to victory in the 1600m Class Three at Royal Randwick on Saturday.
Ridden by Tom Sherry, the Scone-trained galloper thrived with the minimum on her back (54kg) and was too strong for her rivals.
It took a good ride from Sherry, who raced a little worse than midfield on the rails, and turning for home, it appeared the Norm Gardner-trained Dorami (Chad Schofield, $15) might have pinched a winning break.
In a frantic finish, Sherry found a split, and Magic Pharoah ($11) got home by a long-neck from Dorami, while three-quarters of a length off the pace and finishing third was the fast-finishing Final Comment (Quayde Krogh, $21) from the Nick Olive yard.
“It was sensational,” Mary said after the race.
“It was a really good ride from Tommy.”
Mary admitted that he didn’t think Magic Pharoah was a winning chance after the pair turned for home.
“I actually thought we were no hope at the 300m, and she just kept on coming,” he said.
“She’s got a big heart, and she’s got a stack of ability, this mare.”
The daughter of American Pharoah has now won two from 11, but two from five for Mary.
She only won her maiden at Muswellbrook over 1500m on November 5 and was quickly tested in Highway company, finishing third at Newcastle on November 18.
After finishing down the track in the $160,000 Country Classic earlier this month, she bounced back, running third at Gosford in a Benchmark 58 Handicap on December 8, and that was enough for Mary to try his luck in town again.
“That’s why we threw her in the deep end early on in her preparation, but nothing went right for her,” Mary said.
“You’ve got to have the right horses. We’ve only got a small team; we have 16 in work, and this mare showed really early on that she’d be up to this.”
Sherry’s post-race comments backed Mary’s confidence in Magic Pharoah’s ability, suggesting punters will see plenty more of the talented mare over more ground.
“I could see Timmy (Clark) on one of the backs of the favourites, and I was confident when I got on the back of him (and Mazita),” Sherry said.
“She’s been racing brilliantly, we haven’t had a whole lot of luck, and she got back too far last start.
“From a soft gate, we held a decent position; she switched off well and showed a lot of game through the line today.
“I had a look up at the 300m, and I could see Chad (Schofield) was a long way ahead of me, but I could see his horse was a bit tired, and mine was only getting better.”
Saturday’s Highway win adds to what has been a sensational start to Mary’s training career.
The Frenchman, who only prepared his first winner at Gunnedah in late 2020, has already notched 40 winners at a 14% strike rate.
The Scone stable will back up at Taree and Tamworth today (Sunday), with Silver Halo (Robbie Downey) set to contest the 1300m Maiden Plate at Taree and Jamesy (Mikayla Weir) having his first start in the 1200m Maiden Plate at Tamworth.