And even Isaiah himself, well he has been in the winner’s circle after a Sales Series Pace before, back at Addington in May when he won the 2-year-old final, so even he wasn’t new to all this. But there was a point of difference from your usual winner’s circle shot. The guy in the baggy shorts and sandals beaming away during the victory presentation. And it was one of Alexandra Park’s favourite sons in John Magness.
Magness is a long-time sponsor at Alexandra Park and racehorse owner, while Magness Sound and Video have been providing the television services at the track for years. But John was far too busy at his appliance store in Greenlane to make it to the raceday so decided to watch on television during a short break from work. When Isaiah blasted off the gate to lead and keep on running, Magness had to show some speed himself. “I didn’t really think he could win, not against Locharburn,” said the popular Magness. “So when he did I jumped in the car and hightailed it over here. “I still managed to make it here in time for the presentation and it is a huge buzz to win this as it would be the richest race I have won.”
The 16-1 price for Isaiah told the story of just how strong the field was, as he had to beat three Group 1 winners, favourite Locharburn and a host of form runners. But as was the case for much of the New Years Eve meeting, being on the markers and rolling 2.40 speed for 2200m mobile was the place to be. That Isaiah could do that was a reminder of what a brave little pacer he is, one who has looked to be usurped by various rivals from Maxim, Sky Major, Tiger Tara and Locharburn at different stages of his career. But he looks most comfortable on the speed and rolling so effectively won the race at the start when both he and stablemate Alleluia were able to cross Locharburn. That gave them an advantage they never relinquished and while there were plenty of meritorious performances behind him, when you consider Isaiah made all his own luck and won by three and a quarter lengths it is hard to make too many excuses for his rivals.
Locharburn was bold yet goofy in second, reaffirming what a talent he is, while Maxim is a total pro who never seems to go a bad race. Sky Major, for the third time in as many starts, was forced to work at a tough time in the race and only needs an easy trip or better draw to return to winning form. But this is a very strong crop, especially when you consider the win of Aldo Rossi over Te Kawau, two other fine 3-year-olds earlier in the day and the fact that Sires’ Stakes winner Tiger Tara was back in Canterbury cooling his heels.
So sooner rather than later it is going to be decision time for some of these horse’s connections. Do they stay and wage war against each other in what should be great races ahead like the Woodlands Northern Derby, NZ Derby and Harness Jewels? Or do they look for a different path to riches, maybe starting with the Victoria Derby on February 1 and the NSW Derby on March 2? Or do, for those just below the best, their connections look to cash up and sell to the still strong Australian market for quality 3-year-olds? The answer will probably be a mixture of all three.