Pantonario a leading Magic Millions contender for Waterhouse and Bott

For training duo Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott, Saturday’s meeting on the Kensington track will outline what their team will look like at the Magic Millions raceday come January 15.

The prolific partnership are hoping impressive two-year-old Pantonario and last-start placegetter Snitzonfire can book their tickets to the Gold Coast with wins on New Year’s Day.

Pantonario impressed on debut, finishing just over 3 lengths behind current Magic Millions 2YO and Golden Slipper favourite Coolangatta in the Gimcrack Stakes in October.

The daughter of Not A Single Doubt then spent some time in the paddock before returning to the trials last month, winning her most recent heat ahead of subsequent winner Russian Conquest.

Speaking with Sky Sports Radio on Wednesday, Adrian Bott had high praise for Pantonario, saying she’s one of the stables key chances if she can get to the Gold Coast next month.

“I think she’s a pretty classy filly. She certainly would be one of our leading Magic Millions contenders,” he said.

“Obviously she’s not qualified, but I thought it was an excellent run in the Gimcrack.

“She’s matured a lot from that (Gimcrack run). She’s just such a professional in the way she goes about things, so I think with that bit of improvement we’ve seen off that short let-up, she’ll hopefully prove to be very effective for us.

“If she can win that race (on Saturday), she’s another one that we’d like to see take her place in the Magic Millions.”

Regan Bayliss will take the ride aboard Snitzonfire on Saturday, with the pair set to jump from barrier three in the Petaluma Handicap (Benchmark 72) over 1300m.

The three-year-old hasn’t finished worse than fourth in his career thus far, with the Randwick-based trainer saying his two runs this campaign haven’t suited the lightly raced son of Snitzel.

“He’s been building nicely this campaign. He’s been in two unsuitable races, I feel, at the start of this preparation,” he said.

“I think we’ve seen good improvement off the back of those two runs now.

“1300m is a much better trip for him, I’d prefer it to be 1400m, that’s ideal for him, but he’s setting up nicely to try and get him up to the Magic Millions.

“I’d like to see a win here for him to get on the float (to the Gold Coast) a fortnight later.”

Last start Canterbury winner For Valour will line up in the ACY Securities Handicap, also with Regan Bayliss aboard.

The four-year-old has built a great record through his nine career starts, with Bott aiming to keep the gelding around the 1550-metre trip he’ll face on Saturday.

“He’s in good order, he’s been quite consistent this campaign, he just seems to be building a nice consistent record, so this looks to be the next step for him, the natural progression,” he said.

“We did step him up to 1800 (metres) and that was probably just a bit too far for him, so that 1500m to the mile is probably his ideal trip.

“The track should suit him, he’s pretty effective in all conditions, he actually loves getting his toe in the ground now on the heavy track, so bring on the rain for the weekend, he should enjoy it.”

The training partnership also welcomed back Group One Golden Rose winner In The Congo, who returned to Tulloch Lodge earlier in the week.

“”He’s arrived back in this week actually. He’s in terrific order, he looks enormous,” Bott said.

“He’ll have a nice campaign targeted at the major sprint races over The Championships.

“He’s in great order and it’s fabulous to have him back.”

A total of 121 horses have accepted for New Year’s Day racing on the Kensington track, with the track rated a Soft 7 on Wednesday.

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