Magic City claws back to victory

Trainer Laxon and jockey Nunes praise winner's fighting spirit

Brazilian galloper MAGIC CITY was more than entitled to lose the race in Sunday's $75,000 Novice race over 1,400m, but sheer determination saw him rise from the jaws of defeat to strike for the second time.

From the outset, it was clear the Holy Roman Emperor three-year-old was not in for a walk in the park.

Jumping from the second widest gate, he had to be hunted by jockey Manoel Nunes before he finally settled down after 300m. Such taxing time early in the piece usually softens up 90 per cent of horses.

That impression was etched further when Ottawa (Olivier Placais) came with a stiff challenge at the 300m mark, while Bear Witness (Alan Munro) was also surging up menacingly.

The $18 favourite had a hoof in the beaten brigade when $67 roughie Ottawa hit the front, looking full of running. But the James Peters-China Horse Club galloper could not bound away either. The Foxwedge three-year-old started to get the staggers, veering in under pressure and brushing with Magic City, who himself went cannoning off the rails.

It was a case for conjecture, but that bumping duel might have reignited the fighting spark in Magic City, who all of a sudden, scrambled his way back to turn the tide back on Ottawa close home.

In the end, Magic City saluted by half-a-length from Ottawa, with Bear Witness having to settle for third place, another half-a-length away.

The winning time was 1min 22.73sec for the 1,400m on the Short Course D.

The win may have looked scrappy, but trainer Laurie Laxon praised Magic City's bulldog qualities, that saw him overcome all the odds stacked up against him on Sunday, but he remained coy about his true potential.

"He was a real bulldog today. Nunes had to use him up but he still fought on," said the nine-time Singapore champion trainer.

"If he had drawn a nice barrier, he would just sit and chase. From the wide draw, we thought he'd sit outside the leader but he kicked up to get across.

"That was a great effort, but I'd rather not say too much about him as I don't know how much the handicapper will give him."

Nunes, whose second win for the weekend was also recorded for Laxon, on Euro Zone on Friday night, echoed the Kiwi handler's sentiments about Magic City's resilience.

"He has a big heart, he likes to fight," said Nunes.

"He is a straightforward horse to ride, but the wide barrier made it more difficult for us. He was three deep and I just let him roll to the lead.

"The other horse (Ottawa) bumped him and we hit the rails, but he fought back very well to win the race.

"He is still very young, only a three-year-old, and I think he can go over a little bit further with more racing experience."

The level of prize money for Magic City has already crossed the $100,000 mark for VC Stable after that second win from five starts. He was second twice.