Ken Casellas | Photo: Hamilton Content Creators
Star reinsman Aldo Cortopassi was lavish in his praise of Magnificent Storm after he had driven the brilliant five-year-old to a thrilling victory over evergreen champion Chicago Bull in the $30,000 Call Garrard’s Horse And Hound For All Your Equine Needs Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night, and he issued a chilling warning to the connections of the State’s best pacers, saying: “The best is yet to come.”
Cortopassi said that there were no obvious chinks in Magnificent Storm’s armour and that the New Zealand-bred son of American Ideal was sure to keep improving.
“He has won nearly half a million dollars and the best is yet to come,” he said. “He won’t be at his top for about 12 months, and it will be scary when that happens.
“A lot of people forget that Magnificent Storm was having only his 30TH race start tonight. He is still a baby in his head, and he will have his good days and his bad days. His ability enabled him to win his early races so easily, and now he’s in the deep end against old war horses like Vultan Tin and Chicago Bull.
“Years ago, a 30-start horse wouldn’t be racing Free-For-All horses, but now they are. He has done a fantastic job, and he will probably get better and better racing against these high-quality horses.
“I loved the way he attacked the line tonight. He is such a lovely animal who really wanted to win.”
Magnificent Storm was remarkable value as the $3.60 second fancy, with nine-year-old Chicago Bull the hot $1.75 favourite. Gary Hall Jnr sent Chicago Bull straight to the front from the No. 3 barrier, with Cortopassi getting Magnificent Storm into the favourable one-out, one-back position in the first circuit while Vultan Tin went forward to race in the breeze.
Magnificent Storm began a three-wide move with 450m to travel and he finished powerfully to get up in the final couple of strides to beat Chicago Bull by a head, rating 1.58.1 over the 2536m, with the final 800m taking 55.2sec. Bletchley Park ($31) trailed the pacemaker throughout and ran home solidly to finish third.
“It all worked out really well for us to get that good trip,” said Cortopassi. “We were able to sit him up and use his high speed. It is nice to be able to drive him in that manner.”
Magnificent Storm, a credit to his trainer Ray Williams, now has amassed $426,042 in prizemoney from 22 wins and four placings from 30 starts.
Champion trainer Gary Hall Snr said that he was quite happy with Chicago Bull’s effort at his fourth appearance after a spell, while Handsandwheels impressed at his first outing for 23 months when he raced in last position in the field of seven before finishing strongly to be a close-up fifth.