Veteran jockey secures emotional Magic Millions win
HOUTZEN has rocketed to the top of Golden Slipper betting charts after the locally trained filly made a mess of her rivals in Saturday's $2 million Magic Millions 2YO Classic.
No Magic Millions winner had ever made a later start to its career, with Houtzen going to the races for the first time on Christmas Eve.
Two brilliant wins later and punters were happy to send her out equal favourite with Sydney filly From Within, despite her having to jump from the extreme outside barrier.
Under 55-year-old jockey Jeff Lloyd, Houtzen began like a rocket and was in front soon after. It was the last her rivals saw of her.
The $1.6 million colt Chauffeur pulled a number of lengths off her late, but the race had been put to bed well before that.
Having won last season's Brisbane premiership and being on target to smash the record this season, Lloyd's Magic Millions triumph is his biggest win since making his home in Queensland.
In the moments after Saturday's win he reflected on how far he has come since returning from a life-threatening stroke and originally struggling to secure rides.
"It's unbelievable - a year ago we were looking to get a ride or two in this meeting. Then a year on I came here today with a lot of confidence,” Lloyd said.
"I'm just so glad she did it at both ends. It was a really tough win.”
While it looked a breeze for punters from the stands, Lloyd revealed he had genuine concerns in the run.
"I thought it was an enormous win because she never really settled at any stage, she really was buzzing throughout the race,” Lloyd said.
"To me she was really revved up today compared to last week.
"To back up a week apart, all the buzz that's around ... I was concerned when we went around to the start, she never really came back to me. I thought she might have been doing too much, she had enough coming into the last 50 but she was entitled to.”
UBET trimmed Houtzen to $7.50 (from $13) for the Golden Slipper, which trainer Toby Edmonds is now likely to set the filly for.
One TAB punter had $10,000 on Houtzen at $15 to win the Slipper before her triumph on Saturday.
The post-race presentation proved an emotional one for the usually unflappable Lloyd.
The winning Magic Millions rider is now presented the Nathan Berry Medal, in honour of the jockey who won the 2014 race on Unencumbered, before tragically dying only a few months later from an acute form of epilepsy at the age of 23.
Lloyd's wife Nicola is the aunt of Berry's widow Whitney.
"This race means a lot to me. Three years ago I walked the track with Nathan (before he won on Unencumbered) and it's great to be here for him,” Lloyd said while choking back tears.