Gai Waterhouse: trainer saddles first two home in dramatic Magic MillionsPICTURE: Ed Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
Dramatic Magic Millions goes to Driefontein
Report: Australia, Saturday
Gold Coast: Magic Millions Classic6f, turf, 2yo
LIFELONG dreams descended into depressing nightmares at the Gold Coast on Saturday when Sydney filly Driefontein (Gai Waterhouse/Tommy Berry) won an action-packed Magic Millions Classic in the stewards' room.
Driefontein was second past the post in the A$2 million (£1.35m) feature - restricted to horses sold at Magic Millions auctions - behind Gai Waterhouse-trained stablemate No Looking Back, who was ridden by Nash Rawiller.
However, the real action unfolded minutes later when Berry reluctantly protested against the winner.
Berry requested to view the footage of the final 250 metres as soon as he dismounted and originally intended not to protest until chief steward Wade Birch prompted him with questions.
Berry then lodged the protest citing interference over the final 200m when No Looking Back shifted out abruptly and took Driefontein's running, especially over the final 70m.
Stewards deliberated for about five minutes before they called the connections back into the room and upheld the protest.
"It's our belief that had Driefontein been able to maintain her rightful running she would have won the race and therefore we uphold the protest," Birch said.
The stewards' verdict gave Berry his second consecutive Magic Millions win after he scored last year on Karuta Queen but for Gold Coast owners Luke and David Henderson, the decision turned a dream result into a horrific nightmare and meant the difference of A$840,000.
"Forget the Caulfield and Melbourne Cups, the race we always wanted to win was the Magic Millions and to lose this race is terribly disappointing," said Luke Henderson, a Gold Coast Turf Club director.
Driefontein, a son of Fastnet Rock, travelled in second place throughout and loomed as the winner at the 200m until No Looking Back surged along the fence to record a neck margin.
A shocked Berry said the victory was both bittersweet and surreal. "It hasn't really sunk in yet but when it does I'll be elated," he said.
"Nash has become one of my best mates since I started to ride for Gai and to beat him on protest in such a big race doesn't seem right. The filly always travelled strongly although she did get a bit lost getting around the corner.
"She definitely deserved to win the race and the stewards' decision was the right one."