With the scratching of Winsome Joe, Magnifique will start an odds-on favourite for the $20,000 Bulli Gold Plate Final (472m) tonight, a race which wasn’t on his radar until two weeks ago.
The son of Brett Lee has won four of his five starts but trainer Julie Fletcher didn’t consider the Gold Plate until the 22-month-old ran 26.36 around the one-turn Bulli circuit on New Year’s Eve.
“We knew he was quite talented but we didn’t want to push him because he is too young,” Fletcher said.
“He isn’t going to run in the Derby because he’ll give away too much age but when he won a 5th grade in 26.36, we thought why not give him the chance at this race.
“We did the same thing with Ultimate Wish when he won the (Gold) Plate in 1996, the only time we have won it.
“He was a 5th grade dog too but if they are good enough they can win these races on big tracks.”
Tipping the scales at more than 37kg, Magnifique is a giant of the greyhound world and his aggressive chasing style can intimidate other runners.
He gives away age and experience to all his rivals tonight – he is at least a year younger than the other seven dogs in the field.
“He was always a big pup and has grown into a monster,” Fletcher said.
“He is from a litter of 12 and the five that have raced have all won.
“The biggest thing against him is his inexperience because he hasn’t had the starts of the others.
“He loves to get to the rails and can be aggressive to get there, so hopefully from box eight he will get across without causing himself and the others too many problems.”
Magnifique was the fastest heat winner in 26.25 from box eight last week and his main dangers appear to be drawn closest to the rails.
Awesome Hustler won his heat from box one in 26.43 and again has the red, while Proven Diego, who is a slow beginner, is drawn to advantage in two.
Courtesy : Chris Roots, Illawarra Mercury