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Luncies to launch at Ipswich

Mon 17 June 2024

By Brad Bishop, Mandy Cottell and Danny Matthews  

Trainer hoping decision to wait a week pays dividends at Ipswich.

Kris Lees had a hunch waiting for this Saturday's Ipswich Cup was going to be the right move with Luncies and it only took one look at the Q22 to ram home that it was the right call.

That 2200 metre Group 2 was won in devastating fashion by another import, Fawkner Park.

Forgoing a crack at that $1.2 million event leaves him fresh to tackle the $250,000 Listed Ipswich Cup over 2150 metres.

Luncies has run fifth at his two starts this campaign, most recently in the Group 3 Lord Mayor's Cup over 1800 metres, and Lees is confident he is ready to peak at his next two starts.

"He seems in good order, I thought dropping him back a peg might be beneficial," Lees said from Eagle Farm on Saturday.

"I think he'd have run well but I thought next week is probably the softer of the two.

"He'll probably got from there to Caloundra. This looks a nice progression for him."

The $300,000 Listed Caloundra Cup over 2400 metres will be run at the Sunshine Coast on July 6.

Luncies is the highest-rated of 19 nominations for the Ipswich Cup, with distant Q22 runner-up Knight's Choice and defending champion Regal Lion among his potential rivals.

Luncies won the Group 3 Tatt's Cup over 2400 metres at Eagle Farm the start after finishing second to Without A Fight in last year's Lord Mayor's Cup, but Saturday will be his first look at the tight Ipswich track.

"He's raced well when he's been to various tracks, he got around Canterbury OK (and) Hawkesbury, so he'll be right," Lees said.

The Ipswich Cup is one of three black-type races on Ipswich's big day, joined by the Eye Liner Stakes and Gai Waterhouse Classic, which are both $200,000 events at Listed level.

Meanwhile, having watched close mates and fellow riders Tyler Schiller and Dylan Gibbons breakthrough for Group 1 wins, Zac Lloyd has finally been able to savour one of his own with a memorable Stradbroke Handicap triumph aboard Stefi Magnetica.

Last season's champion Sydney apprentice, Lloyd is regarded as one of the country's most promising young jockeys and has been knocking on the door for a major.

His moment arrived at Eagle Farm on Saturday aboard the Bjorn Baker-trained filly, the pair overcoming a wide draw and defiant challenge from bonny mare Bella Nipotina to narrowly deny her in the $3 million race.

"Results speak louder than words and it's really good to get that Group 1 on my resume," Lloyd said.

"I've had some great opportunities in the last year or so and I haven't been able to capitalize, so to get the job done in a very big race, it's very special and hopefully that propels my career to greater heights."

Lloyd said he went into the race confident he was on the right horse in Stefi Magnetica, who Baker decided to target at the Brisbane winter following her narrow second in the Group 1 Surround Stakes at Randwick in March.

The three-year-old settled well back in the big Stradbroke field but Lloyd was able to pinch ground along the inside before steering her to the middle of the track in the straight.

"I was travelling so well I was happy to go inside of them and she is really tough," Lloyd said.

"I saw Bella Nipotina and I thought, she's one horse you don't want to be in a finish with, but she (Stefi Magnetica) was great."

Stefi Magnetica became the first filly to win the Stradbroke Handicap since La Montagna in 2006 while also emulating the achievement of her dam Mid Summer Music, who won the corresponding race in 2012.

Lloyd's manager and father, former top jockey Jeff, was one of the first to congratulate him, saying he was immensely proud of his son – even if he didn't follow their game plan.

"We went through the race for a couple of hours this morning and after a furlong I said, 'well that was a waste of time'. He ended up on the rails and near the back," Jeff Lloyd said.

"He has been crying out to win a Group 1 and to win it in Queensland, my hometown, I couldn't be prouder."

With a six kilo pull in the weights, Stefi Magnetica ($15) scored by a half-neck over a brave Bella Nipotina ($15) with Vilana ($4.80 fav) two lengths away third.

The runner-up's jockey Craig Williams said the Doomben 10,000 winner was typically courageous under her 56kg topweight.

"Amazing horse. The stable said she'd improved coming in," Williams said.

"She offset a tricky barrier draw and was very gallant in defeat."