Unite And Conquer (Image: Racing Photos)
Being a Listed event, Victoria's opening juvenile race of the season is much sought-after for breeders and owners, but to underline the uncertainty of two-year-old racing, Saturday's Maribyrnong Trial Stakes at Flemington fell to the cheapest horse in the field.
But it was not as if Unite And Conquer's win came as a great surprise.
The names attached to the colt were easily recognisable with trainers Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott combining to race him with Blueblood Thoroughbreds, who race the likes of last season's juvenile Group 1 winner Seabrook.
Starting a $6.50 chance, the son of Hinchinbrook came off a trial in a Randwick placing to dominate the race from the front, eventually having two-and-a-quarter lengths over Sun City ($5 eq fav), with his stablemate Grand Scholar ($8.50) a length-and-three-quarters away in third place.
Unite And Conquer was knocked down to Waterhouse and Bott at the Magic Millions sale on the Gold Coast for $80,000 last January.
The Magic Millions Classic next January therefore is a major target for Unite And Conquer but not before he returns to Flemington in a month for an even bigger prize - the G3 Maribyrnong Plate on Oaks Day.
"He jumped like a true professional - that's where he won the race," Waterhouse said.
"He was able to get over to the fence and then he was able to get into a lovely rhythm. He was dominant right from the start and there was never any chance of him being beaten."
Waterhouse said Unite And Conquer was one of a handful of youngsters in her stable to have shown above-average ability.
"He showed himself a lovely, strong type and we thought he's been well placed down here, especially heading towards the Maribyrnong Plate," she said.
Riding runner-up Sun City, who was the most expensive yearling purchase in the field at $525,000, Craig Williams said the colt missed the start as he had done in his jumpout and from there was always facing a battle to get into the race.