A gutsy decision early in the Kriden Park/Allianz Group 3 Shirley Turnbull Memorial by Lauren Panella has paid dividends as she got Feels Like Magic across the line first in the prestigious 2520 metre race at Bathurst Paceway on Wednesday night.
Panella started from barrier five and, based on her instructions from trainer Karen Crouch, knew she needed to get to the front to give herself the best chance of winning.
She didn’t muck around, making a very quick start when the mobile barrier took off but Steve Turnbull had Slick Bromac ($12.80) wound up inside her and it was he who had the inside running as they hit the first bend.
Panella, driving the $9.90 chance, then had to decide whether to keep pushing or back off. She chose to keep the speed up and took the lead midway through the corner, settling into the pegs as they hit the back straight for the first time.
That move would prove to be instrumental in the victory because Panella was able to dictate the pace and her job was helped even more by the failure of heavyweights Come On Frank ($2.10 favourite) and Roman Stride ($3.20) to assert themselves in the race.
A delighted Panella reflected on her decision after the race.
“The horse goes 100 per cent better when he is in front. He enjoys rolling along and I knew the only opportunity of doing that was if I was in front,’’ she said.
“He had to do a lot of work to get to the front and I thought I’d give him a little breather, which I did, and went on from there.’’
Ashlee Siejka moved Mega Alexander ($27.80) up to second as they began the final mile, with Slick Bromac third on the pegs and Amanda Turnbull’s My Dusky Sound ($13.40) outside him.
Panella didn’t push Feels Like Magic too hard in the first half, covering it in a steady 63 seconds.
It allowed Come On Frank and Roman Stride to move closer to the front but the work they had to do to catch up meant they had little to offer in the run to the line.
They had dropped towards the back of the field again as they came around the final bend while at the front Feels Like Magic took off unchallenged and went on to win by almost 13 metres.
The battle for second was much closer with My Dusky Sound holding second as they came onto the home straight but Hesa Buzzin ($18.40) ran on extremely well to snatch second by a neck, with Mega Alexander fourth.
Feels Like Magic won the $30,000 Newcastle Cup in late November but his form since then hadn’t done much to capture attention.
He finished ninth in the Group 1 Treuer Memorial, before a fourth over 1600 metres at Menangle and then on Saturday, he was ninth in another race at Menangle, this time over 2300m.
His owner Kevin Pizzuto and trainer Karen Crouch had faith though, and were rewarded for their persistence.
“He’s done his job for me. I’m really happy to win this race. Lauren drove perfectly. She was told to go forward and lead, that was the only way we could have won the race and she did that so all credit goes to her,’’ Pizzuto said when presented with his trophy after the race. The entire Turnbull family was out for the race which paid tribute to family matriarch Shirley Turnbull.