That’s Molly storms into Country Championships final

Glen Milligan (second from left) accepts the Country Championships Northern Wild Card qualifier trophy after That’s Molly’s victory at Scone on Friday. Image: Scone Race Club.

The Milligan family’s Country Championships success continued at Scone on Friday.

In 2021, the late Bob Milligan prepared Charmmebaby for victory in the Mid-North Coast qualifier, which was coincidently transferred to Scone. 

That year, Charmmebaby finished strongly to finish third to eventual winner Art Cadeau in the $500,000 final at Royal Randwick.

In the same Red and Gold silks, That’s Molly, prepared by Bob’s son Glen, flashed from last and showcased a devastating turn of foot to win the $150,000 Northern Wild Card qualifier at Scone and qualify for next month’s $1 million final.

With Ash Morgan in the saddle and starting a 50/1 chance, the five-year-old upstaged her more fancied rivals when defeating the Rodney Northam-trained Sharp Shock (Reece Jones, $5.50) by threequarters-of-a-length while a length away in third was the Matthew Dunn-trained Belvedere Boys (James Orman, $1.80). 

“It was a big thrill,” Milligan told NSW Country and Picnic Racing. 

“I knew she would finish strongly; she’s rock-hard fit, and she ran really well.

“I got 60/1 about her, and I stood her out in the trifecta and got that, so we had a good day.”

That’s Molly had previously finished down the track to Auzstar in atrocious conditions in the Mid-North Coast qualifier at Tuncurry on February 24.

Last time out, she took on a terrific field in the Newcastle Stakes on March 8. 

Despite travelling wide for most of the 1400m event, she was beaten only five lengths by Rustic Steele. 

“All my horses went like a busted balloon at Tuncurry,” Milligan said.

“If you watch the replay at Newcastle, she finished ten out of eleven, but she was right in the race and was only beaten five lengths.

“I said to Ash that the horse was going better than ever, even though her form didn’t look like it on paper, and to try and give her a bit of a squeeze out and stay wide, let her go through the gears and run on, and that’s exactly what he did.”

Glen and his wife Vicky own 90% of That’s Molly, and with good friend Josh Kime in for 10%, the $76,250 for first place is heading back to Taree. 

It’s not a bad result, considering she was purchased as a $7000 three-start maiden.
“I only got her because we needed something for Zac (Wadick) to ride, and she was a maidener, so we thought we would get her to give him something to learn on,” Milligan said. 

“Until today, Zac had been the only one on her back.”

While Wadick was offered the ride, Morgan ended up in the saddle and did an excellent job. 

In fact, Morgan has done enough to keep the ride, with Milligan quick to offer the popular Welsh jockey the opportunity in the $1 million final.

“Ash Morgan will ride her,” Milligan confirmed. 

“He was good enough to ride her today, and I’m happy to keep country blokes on. He’s a very good jockey.”

It’s a 15-day turnaround to the Country Championships final, and Milligan said it worked out perfectly for That’s Molly.

“Once she is fit, she’s pretty easy to train,” Milligan said. 

“She’s only a lightly framed thing, and she eats enough, but I’d like her to eat more. 

“This week, she only had the saddle on Monday and Thursday, and I put her on the walker on Tuesday and Wednesday.

“She won’t get much galloping between now and the final, and we’ll just keep her ticking over.”

In terms of their chances when heading to Royal Randwick on April 6, Milligan is confident his Dissident mare can hold her own. 

“We just need some speed on, and we’d love to draw a barrier,” Milligan laughed.

“She is what she is, and I know she will try her guts out.

“We’ll be confident; if everyone goes right from here until then, we’re a chance.”

On Sunday, the 2024 Country Championships trains chugs on to Goulburn for the Southern Wild Card qualifier. 

For more on the Country Championships, click here.