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Tough Love Prevails in MM Qualifier
Tough Tolga galloper Love Is Blind completed a stunning comeback from injury to claim the Magic Millions Country Cup Qualifier (1200m) at Cluden Park yesterday.
Love Is Blind was given a perfect run by jockey Stephen Wilson to clinch a half-length win in the feature over Silent Explorer with the luckless Star Of O’Reilly a long head away third.
But the win won’t entice trainer Roy Chillemi to travel to the Gold Coast on January 8 for the MM Country Cup final.
“We’ll keep him home and take care of him. He injured a tendon below his fetlock when he won here in April and it’s taken a long time to get it right,” Chillemi said.
“He needed six months off so we could have it treated and we slowly brought him back into the stables.
“Before it happened I thought he was a genuine Cleveland Bay (Hcp) horse.
“It was a good win today but I wouldn’t want to risk him taking him down there.”
Love Is Blind showed he had returned in great shape with a strong first-up win over 1000m on December 2 on his way to the Country Cup Qualifier.
The win completed a winning double for Chillemi and Wilson who earlier won with Go Getaboy in the TAB QTIS 2YO Mdn Hcp (1000m).
But their feats were upstaged to some degree by Atherton trainer Sharlee Hoffman and jockey Justin Stanley who both landed a treble.
The duo combined to win with the heavily backed Lapseki and Nice Retort while Hoffman also scored an upset win with $36 shot Dutton Branded and Stanley notched his treble on the Michael McLellan-trained Don’t Whisper.
Hoffman now sits clear on the trainers premiership with nine winners.
Her stable jockey Lacey Morrison, who leads the Cluden riders premiership (13 wins), is away on holidays leaving the way open for Stanley’s to continue the stable’s winning run.
“I can’t wipe the smile off my face. Having Lacey and Justin to choose from is just amazing. They’re both outstanding,” Hoffman said.
“And Krysten (Swaffer) rode Dutton Branded a treat. I thought the wide barrier (14) might beat him but she got him into a great position and I don’t think I’ve seen her ride harder than she did in the last 100m.”
Stanley is the hottest jockey in provincial Queensland since returning to the saddle after six months on the sidelines with injuries he received in a fall at Gatton in April.
He made a winning return at Cluden in late October and has now ridden an amazing 28 winners from 79 rides at a strike rate of 35%.
Pictured: Love Is Blind returning from injury to win the MM Country Cup Qualifier (1200m).
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