There is the good way to leave the gates and then there’s the bad way.
In Saturday’s Listed All Victorian Sprint Series Final down the Flemington straight, Perth trained, Malibu Style, chose the bad way: lunging forward a split second before the starter let them go and causing his barrier to break open.
While normally it might have been deemed an advantage, it actually resulted in Malibu Style being pushed back momentarily. More slowly away than usual, the flashy 7YO chestnut raced off the pace early, but nevertheless turned in a blistering performance to hit the lead and fend off a late challenge from favourite, Milwaukee: winning with a half length to spare.
Yet the drama was far from over with trainer Neville Parnham and other connections having a nervous wait while stewards determined whether their horse got a head start, so to speak.
Fortunately, the stewards and Parnham were on the same page and the result was allowed to stand.
“This barrier issue aside (Malibu Style) seems to thrive in Melbourne and that was his third stakes win over here,” Parnham points out.
Having done most of his early racing in Perth where Parnham has been champion trainer on 13 occasions since first taking out his licence in 1983, Malibu Style first added a Listed Crawford Stakes at Ascot in December 2016 following numerous stakes placings. Making his first trip east just over two years ago, Malibu Style has subsequently won the Listed Doveton and Listed Bel Esprit, with his career record currently reading 11 wins and 18 placings from 55 starts for $854,925.
“Malibu Style has had a few feet issues but is still at the top of his game. He likes the softer tracks in Melbourne, but his only blemish this time around was in the (Group One) Goodwood (in Adelaide) where he copped quite a bit of buffeting and spat the chewy,” Parnham explains.
“Still, he ran second in the (Listed) Wangoom at Warrnambool and was runnerup at Caulfield and Sandown coming into Saturday’s race. I was pretty confident he’d do well at Flemington.”
Parnham readily admits the horse has been a huge money-spinner for the stable, originally purchasing Malibu Style as a yearling from the Bowness Stud draft for just $40,000 at the 2013 Inglis Classic Yearling Sale.
“I stayed in the horse with a few long-time clients – all good mates – and we’ve had a lot of fun with him,” Parnham adds.
One of 19 stakes winners by the Sun Stud based, Magnus, Malibu Style is out of the Fusaichi Pegasus mare, Origami, a half sister to the dam of stakes winner Excelorada, from Melbourne stakes winner, Born Western. Other close relations include Group Two winning 2YO, The Heavyweight and 2YO stakes winner and sire, Zedrich.
West Australian racing has indeed been a happy hunting ground for Magnus with two of his Group One winners – Magnifisio and Great Shot – along with this season’s 2YO stakes winner, Rio Del Mar, all trained in Perth, while Malaguerra was third in the Group One Winterbottom.
“I like Magnus but the thing that caught my attention with Malibu Style was Excelorada, who I trained,” Parnham reveals. “He was a very good racehorse that ended up winning 10 races and a couple of those at stakes level, but at one stage he’d won seven from eight starts. It’s certainly a great family.”
Although Malibu Style was bred by Bowness Stud, his dam, Origami and granddam Best Western were both bred by prominent Victorian industry figure, Rob Crabtree, who also bred and/or raced the progeny of third dam Rich Haul: including stakes winners Born Western, Zedrich, The Heavyweight and Lisboa Stand.
Crabtree also bred and raced Magnus.