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Nichols upbeat about 2YOs with family ties to ex-stable stars

*Article by Gilbert Gardiner for racenet

A brother of the good horse and son of the "Star" headline Shane Nichols's dual-pronged attack in the juvenile races at Caulfield on Saturday.

Orion The Hunter, TBB Racing, Shane Nichols Racing
Image Courtesy of Racing Photos

Nichols has Orion The Hunter, son of glamour mare I Am A Star, a five-time Group 2 winner, in the 1200m 2YO Handicap and Eugenius, brother of dual Group 1 winner Streets Of Avalon, in the 1400m VOBIS Gold Ingot.

Orion The Hunter, a $26 rank outsider, led all the way last start to win a 1000m Sale maiden by 1¼ lengths, while Eugenius finished strongly in a 1200m event at Flemington, going down by a head after doing a bit wrong early.

"It was the ideal race for him, Eugenius, a bit softer and worth more money than the 1200m," Nichols said of the $7.50 chance.

"Drawn a little awkward, nine of nine, we need all of Ollie's (Damien Oliver) brilliance to try and give him a good steer."

Eugenius was crunched in betting last start, $40 into $13, and got within a head of landing the owners' plunge.

The two-year-old Magnus gelding, out of Kamuniak, has eased slightly, $7 to $7.50, ahead of Saturday's start.

"He's progressed a bit since then, work was sharp and strong Tuesday morning, so we just need a little bit of luck in running and hopefully he can be competitive," Nichols said.

"It does look a nice race for him."

Nichols suggested Orion The Hunter would be ridden positively from barrier six.

"He's got plenty of gate speed so will put himself thereabouts," Nichols said.

"He was able to lead a 1000m race pretty easily, that probably lands in the front four or five in a 1200m at Caulfield."

Nichols also has consistent Beour Bay, a shrewd purchase, in a 1400m Benchmark 70.

The Mornington trainer, who bought back the mare from a former owner for $30,000 and re-syndicated her to existing clients, has achieved a $70,000 prizemoney windfall in four starts.

Beour Bay is only lightly-raced, 10 starts as a four-year-old after experiencing soundness issues as a filly.

Since being bought by Nichols, the mare has placed at Sandown the past two starts after back-to-back Pakenham and Mornington wins. "A client of mine bought her for $8000, 10 days later I purchased her back (for $30,000) … I had two horses retire and I offered her to those two groups," Nichols said. "My initial intention was to keep 30, 40, 50 per cent but they jumped at the idea, she was a last-start (Wodonga) winner at that stage … and now they're loving it, they've had a good ride. "We're a client-based business, we need clients to be reinvesting and the best way to reinvest is to get them a result … we knew she was a pretty handy horse once we got her, city class, it was a no-brainer to try and buy her." Despite optimism for the Caulfield trio, Nichols knows expectations and results don't always align. Streets Of Avalon was runner-up twice in the day's feature Group 3 Bletchingly Stakes (1200m), beaten small margins behind Sansom (2021) and Viridine (2020). "You drive to the races thinking we've got three live chances on the Saturday, ‘hopefully we can win a race', and you come home and one runs fourth, the others an unlucky seventh and a quality ninth," Nichols laughed. "Hopefully little brother (Eugenius) can go one better (than Streets Of Avalon) and we get a bit of redemption."


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