MARG Hall has been going to the races since she was born.
It comes with the territory when you happen to be the daughter of Bert Honeychuch, who is regarded as one of the Riverina’s greatest ever trainers.
But never has she been more excited about a race meeting, than Saturday’s $2 million Magic Million Classic (1200m) on the Gold Coast.
Hall is part of the syndicate, Aces Boom, that owns a five per cent share of the David Hayes-trained filly Champagne Boom.
Sisters Lyn Merrall, Bernadette Murray, niece Alison Merrall and mutual friends Verity Dyordyevic, Gerry Glover and Anne Hawking are also part of the syndicate.
The part-owners will all be trackside to watch Champagne Boom as she tries to claim the $1.2 million first prize winners cheque.
All the owners of the horse are also eligible for a share in the $500,000 bonus if Champagne Boom wins, a Magic Millions incentive for female only-owned syndicates.
“It’s going to be a huge weekend,” Hall said.
“We have waited a long time for something like this to happen and know it’s a once- in-a-lifetime opportunity to win a race like this.
“I’ve been going to the races all my life, but I’ve never been so excited yet nervous at the same time.”
Champagne Boom won on debut at Caulfield in mid-October.
She then finished third in group 3 company at her following start and fourth in the Wyong Magic Millions at her most recent start in December.
“Once she won her first race we found out she was eligible for the Magic Millions and that was her main target,” she said.
“Knowing how busy the Gold Coast is in January, we booked our accommodation and flights in October.
“We are all meeting on the Gold Coast on Friday and staying for a week and making a holiday out of it.
“We get to meet David Hayes on Friday as well as get to see Champagne Boom.
“On Saturday we have even splurged out and booked the limousine to take us to the races.”
Champagne Boom will be ridden by Craig Williams and is quoted an $18 chance.
In the most open 2YO Magic Millions this decade, the Ciaron Maher-trained Dubious is the $5 favourite.
“You have to be in it to win it and we’re in with a chance,” she said.
“It’s an achievement just to make the final field but we’ve got our fingers crossed she can be more than competitive.
“She has drawn well in barrier 3, is trained by Hayes, has Williams aboard – so she ticks a lot of boxes.”
Hall and some of the other syndicate members also own horses with Border trainers Craig Widdison and Mitchell Beer.
They are in the Beer-trained Gwenneth, who boasts a handy record of six wins and ran third at her most recent run at Flemington in December.
“We know what winning is all about, not just on as big of a scale as the Magic Millions,” Hall said.
The Magic Millions is of special significance for Hall’s niece, Alison Merrall.
Merrall’s father, Bob Merrall, was a local trainer and trained smart juvenile Raise The Banner.
Raise The Banner raced in the inaugural 2YO Magic Millions Classic in 1987 and finished fifth behind Snippets.
“Dad purchased the horse for $8000,” Merrall said.
“It was a massive accomplishment back then for a bush trainer to have a starter in the Magic Millions.
“I remember going up with the family all those years ago to my first Magic Millions and now I’m going for my second time as an owner, 32 years later.”
Merrall is also regarded as the mastermind of the syndicate and purchased the original share in the horse.
“The thing that caught my eye, is that she was sired by Spirit Of Boom and just the amount of success he has had at stud,” Merrall said.
“I also wanted to be in a horse that was sold at the Magic Millions sales and be eligible for the race.
“The fact there is a $500,000 bonus for female-owned syndicates is enticing.
“But also that I have such fond memories of the Magic Millions and I had the chance to go as a kid.
“To have a horse that is trained by David Hayes and ridden by Craig Williams is also a huge buzz.
“I love the fact that syndicates allow you to race a horse with a high-profile trainer and jockey for a modest outlay.
“Then to share the experience with your family and friends – I just can’t wait for the races on Saturday.”
Champagne Boom is by Spirit Of Boom out of Lucky Toss.
The 2YO Magic Millions starts at 5pm.
- Receive our daily newsletter straight to your inbox each morning from The Border Mail. Sign up here