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  • Writer's pictureJohn Curtis


TUESDAY: January 10, 2023: HAWKESBURY’S Magic Millions hope Fire Lane had her first look this morning at the Gold Coast course proper where she will chase a big payday on Saturday.

Trainer Brad Widdup took the opportunity to gallop the Hellbent filly on the same track where she will contest the $2m 2YO Classic (1200m).

“Rosie Jilla rode Fire Lane and she went off from the 800m and picked it up a little from the 600m,” Widdup said from the Magic Millions yearling sale, which began today.

“But she wasn’t out there to have a gut buster. It was simply about giving her some experience on the track.”

Widdup’s son Hunter was charged with selecting a barrier for Fire Lane a few hours later when the public draw was conducted at Surfers Paradise, and came up with 15 in a capacity field of 16 plus five emergencies.

However, she will start from 11 if the emergencies do not make the field.

Coincidentally, that is the same barrier Widdup’s only previous Magic Millions 2YO Classic runner Witherspoon started from when she ran 13th at $61 to Sunlight in the 2018 edition.

“You can’t do anything about the draw,” Widdup said. “Whereas Witherspoon was a fast filly and a maiden when she ran five years ago, Fire Lane is much better performed and showed in her latest win at Randwick that she can sit off the pace and find the line.

“Hopefully, we can get that little bit of luck on Saturday that you need to win a race such as this.”

Widdup sent Fire Lane to the Gold Coast last Wednesday night to acclimatise, and said the filly was eating well, but had been a “little toey” in strange surroundings.

“She is getting more settled every day, and this morning’s gallop will certainly help.

“I’m glad I brought her up here when I did.”

A $330,000 purchase at last year’s Magic Millions sale, Fire Lane has won two (the 900m Max Lees Classic at Newcastle on November 12 and 1100m 2YO Plate at Royal Randwick on December 24) of her three starts.

Her only defeat was a fourth to MM rival Sovereign Fund in the Wyong Magic Millions (1100m) on December 14.

She raced up on the speed that day at her first start since the Max Lees Classic, and was beaten less than two lengths.

Fire Lane is raced by one of Widdup’s staunch supporters in BK Racing & Breeding and their racing manager Ben Vassallo and will be partnered by Jay Ford, who has been aboard in her three starts and both barrier trials.

In spite of her excellent credentials, Fire Lane has rather surprisingly been largely overlooked in MM betting, despite the fact she beat two of the favorites Platinum Jubilee and Empire of Japan in her Randwick victory, and is currently rated a $17 chance for Saturday’s feature.

Success would put another feather in Widdup’s cap this season after clinching a deserved Group 1 breakthrough at Flemington last spring with his stable star Icebath.

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