Ken Casellas | Photo: Hamilton Content Creators
Speedy four-year-old Machnificent lived up to his name when he unleashed a typical flying finish to get up and snatch a last-stride victory over the $1.26 favourite Ideal Agent in the $50,000 The West Australian Nights of Thunder at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
Machnificent, the second fancy at $9.20, gave reinsman Shannon Suvaljko his second victory in the 1730m feature sprint event after he had employed similar sit-and-sprint tactics to win the race with $6.40 chance Queen Shenandoah 12 months earlier.
Machnificent is trained by Katja Warwick, who races the WA-bred Mach Three stallion in partnership with Ross Waddell and Waddell’s Pacing WA syndicate.
Former champion trainer-reinsman Trevor Warwick, speaking on behalf of Waddell, said: “Thanks must go to Kat, who has done a wonderful job with this horse. He has been a little bit unlucky a couple of times in big races. He is that sort of horse who has to have a sit, and things went to plan tonight.
“It was a great result, particularly for Ross Waddell, who backs Kat with everything she wants to buy at the yearling sales. Machnificent is one of the cheaper ones.”
Machnificent, purchased for $20,000 at the 2019 APG Perth yearling sale, has now raced 38 times for 11 wins, 12 placings and $136,730 in stakes.
Friday night’s win was a remarkable achievement for Machnificent, who just scraped into the nine-horse field as the ninth-fastest qualifier when fourth behind Double Up in a heart a week earlier.
He was involved in a nasty mix-up on the home turn, broke into a gallop and then recovered to finish in fourth position. “If I had stayed on the rails, I would have won by three lengths,” said Suvaljko. “It was like a standing start at the 200m when I was pulled up. He then did an amazing job to qualify for the final.”
Double Up, the $10 third fancy in the final in which he started from the No. 1 barrier, led for the first 450m before his stablemate Ideal Agent forged to the front, leaving $23 chance The Ideal Touch in the breeze and Machnificent in fourth spot, three back on the pegs.
“With the stablemates Double Up and Ideal Agent drawn one and two I could see that they were going to roll along, so I thought our best chance was to stay three back on the rails and hope for luck,” said Suvaljko.
“And it worked out that we got a bit of luck. But we still had to go about the 500m, and I pushed out Junior (Gary Hall jnr, driving The Ideal Touch) half way down the back, and then Double Up pushed me out at the 400m, so then we were three deep around the corner. But I still hadn’t gone for him.”
Machnificent then sprinted fast to gain the verdict by a head in a photo finish. Machnificent rated 1.52.4 which was a race record, bettering Ocean Ridge’s win at a 1.52.6 rate in January 2020.
“Machnificent will go to Free-For-Alls; he is really quick and is maturing and getting fitter and stronger all the time,” said Suvaljko. “Every time I drive him, I can feel he can run longer and faster. “He is also versatile; he can lead, and he can sit. The only thing he doesn’t really like is doing too much work. But he is that fast that he doesn’t have to do that sort of work.”
Machnificent, bred by Bob Fowler’s Allwood Stud Farm, is the fifth foal out of the Northern Luck mare Honorable Daughter, who was unplaced at her six starts in 2010.