By BEN CALUZZI
Mystic Journey was purchased for just $11,000 at the 2017 Magic Millions Yearling Sale in Tasmania. Now a four-year-old mare, she has accumulated an astonishing $3.3 million in prizemoney in less than two years - a hefty return on investment by anyone’s standards and one many Wall Street Bankers would happily add to their portfolios without a second thought. With a career record that now reads 14:11-0-0, she has fabricated a public aura in such a short amount of time, not dissimilar to, dare we say it, Winx. While a comparison between the pair can’t even be discussed at this point in time, one discrepancy we know for certain is that Mystic Journey’s best racing is still ahead of her.
The daughter of Needs Further extended her winning streak to seven in the Group 2 P.B Lawrence Stakes at Caulfield on Saturday 17 August. Withdrawn from the Bletchingly Stakes late last month over concerns about the heavy track, trainer Adam Trinder decided instead to trial the mare at Devonport for a second time before coming to Melbourne for her first up run. Trinder explained that “she doesn’t extend as well and with as much confidence on easing ground,” however, the stable were now at a stage where they had to get her preparation underway regardless of the track surface.
With a soft 5 the official track rating at Caulfield, Mystic Journey was sent out as the $2.15 favourite for the 1400m event and didn’t let her backers down. Jockey Anthony Darmanin rode a confident race from midfield, and she let down brilliantly in the straight to score by three quarters of a length to Cliff’s Edge ($9), with Hartnell ($4) a further half-length back in third.
Rider of Cliff’s Edge Mark Zahra said post-race… “I’ve never been so confident coming into the home straight and still been run down… She (Mystic Journey) is something special”.
Despite Adam Trinder openly voicing concerns that his stable star wouldn’t be at her best first up on the soft ground, Mystic Journey showed little vulnerability when it counted. While the performance wasn’t as visually spectacular as her Australian Guineas or All-Star Mile wins, she still posted the fastest 600m, 400m and 200m sectionals of the race (34.31, 22.39, 11.38.)
It was a dominant victory. It was the return that all racing fans were hoping for, and while many punters’ first reaction to the win was pure excitement, for Trinder it was relief. When asked about how he is handling the pressure of training such a high calibre horse, he responded wisely and confidently.
“I’ve taken a lot of advice from people like Peter Moody and Tony McEvoy in regard to these really good horses… they said don’t get ahead of the game, keep your eye on the ball and be obliging.”
While the winning streak is always at the back of his mind, Trinder stressed that getting Mystic Journey to the Ladbrokes Cox Plate in peak condition remained his primary focus. Prior to the race on Saturday the trainer was noted saying, “if she runs top three, that’s good enough for me. We’d obviously like to protect her record, but we’re not scared of defeat.”
Any doubts that she wouldn’t come back as good in her four-year-old year have quickly been put to bed, and while Trinder “wouldn’t dare” suggest she’s come back even better, it was an important step in the right direction and she can only improve now.
“This takes a little bit of pressure off and I feel she is where she needs to be,” he said.
Equally as important, the stable tweeted on Sunday morning that Mystic Journey had pulled up well from her first up run. It read “Mystic Journey is lovely and full about herself this morning post her G2 win yesterday, next raceday assignment will be announced later in the week. We thank you for your support and interest.”
Now that her campaign is underway, all roads lead to The Valley and the camp are busy preparing and mapping out which path they will take to the Weight-For-Age Championship of Australasia.
Although a start in the Group 1 1400m Memsie Stakes at Caulfield in a fortnight is a possibility, it is understood her next two runs will preferably be at Flemington. She will likely run in the Group 1 1600m Makybe Diva Stakes on September 14 and then the Group 1 Turnbull Stakes over 2000m on October 5.
She remains the $4.50 firm favourite for the Ladbrokes Cox Plate, but if she keeps on her winning ways, that might not be what’s offered in the bookies ring on October 26.