Royal Merchant confirms Magic Millions Carnival plans

As a Group One winner,Royal Merchant looked to have the Magic Millions Wyong 3YO & 4YO Stakes at her mercy and that’s how it panned out, despite a late scare from stablemate Semana.

Triumphant in The Goodwood at Morphettville in May, Royal Merchant met much lesser-performed horses favourably at the handicaps under the set weights conditions of Wednesday’s 1200 metre race.

While her form over the Sydney spring carnival had been mixed, trainers Ciaron Maher and David Eustace had given her a month’s break and added blinkers, a move jockey Jason Collett said was telling.

Sent around a $1.40 favourite, Royal Merchant gave backers little cause for concern when she shot to the front at the top of the straight before Semana ($12), also prepared by Maher and Eustace, charged late to get within a neck.

“Set weights really suited her,” Collett told Sky Racing.

“With the hood, I didn’t want to be overdoing it early and revving her up too much, so it was just a case of working our way across.

“She did it easily enough. She had to do a wee bit more just to get outside the leader, but she was obviously quite well placed in this race.”

Stable representative Johann Gerard-Dubord confirmed both Royal Merchant and Semana would progress to the Magic Millions race day at the Gold Coast on January 13.

The winner will target the $1 million Magic Millions Fillies & Mares’ (1300m), while the runner-up is being aimed at the Magic Millions Cup (1400m).

“They are both likely to go up, probably the fillies and mares’ (race) for Royal Merchant and Semana, the 1400-metres will probably suit her,” Gerard-Dubord said.

“But we will see how they come through it and decide after that.”

Semana was the surprise packet of the race with Gerard-Dubord saying she was a difficult mare to assess first-up because she didn’t exert herself on the training track or in trials.

“She shows you nothing at her trials, she shows you nothing at trackwork but on race days she is just a different horse,” he said.

“She comes back stronger every time and until you see her on race day it is hard to tell, but she’s in for a good prep too.”

Silentsar ($8.50) did best of the rest, finishing third, another 2-1/2 lengths in arrears

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