He rode Adelaide’s first ever Magic Millions winner and landed the big prize in Queensland 12 years ago – and now Jason Holder has given the thumbs up to SA racing’s new Magic Millions feature race day.
Holder steered Barossa Broadway to victory in Adelaide’s inaugural Magic Millions race, way back in 2001, then in 2009 won the $2 million 2YO Gold Coast feature on Phelan Ready.
The gun Adelaide hoop’s special connection to the Magic Millions concept – which has understandably dominated racing headlines over the past week via the incredible sales results and Saturday’s bumper race day – has him eagerly anticipating next month’s new Magic Millions race day at Murray Bridge.
“It’s good for the industry and it’s great for South Australia to have the Magic Millions here,” Holder said.
“It’s an event that you love being part of and the more Magic Millions events we have the better, as far as I’m concerned. They’re obviously good for owners and trainers, and they help keep our sport and our industry going.”
The 2021 Magic Millions hype was an ideal time to ask Holder about his dual Magic Millions victories, starting with Barossa Broadway, which was trained by Byron Cozamanis Sr.
“It was actually a late pick-up ride, after acceptances,” Holder said.
“We thought the horse would run well and I remember when I hit the front I was quite excited, because it was such a big feature race. It was good to do it for ‘Cozi’, and pay him back for giving me that opportunity, and other opportunities.
“It was a massive thrill.”
Almost a decade later, Holder was again the toast of the Magic Millions scene when he piloted outsider Phelan Ready to victory in the two-year-old Gold Coast feature, for Queensland trainer, the late Bruce McLachlan.
At the time, Holder was permanently stationed in Queensland, nearing the end of a four-year stint in the Sunshine State. He admits he might have been a fraction lucky to be aboard Phelan Ready in the big race.
“I rode it the start beforehand and it wasn’t one of my better rides,” he said.
“We got caught four wide, ran on and finished fourth.
“So I was lucky Bruce gave me the ride on it – if he took me off I could understand.”
The victory caught both punters and Holder off guard.
“In a sense I thought he was batting a bit high,” he said.
“He went into that race at about 90/1, because he didn’t have the best form.
“We thought he had potential, but we thought he was another prep away.”
History shows that Holder brought Phelan Ready down the outside with a blistering run to edge out Paprika and Motown Lady and claim the rich 1200m prize.
But even without that win – the biggest prizemoney race on his CV, which includes Group 1 successes – Holder said he always felt Magic Millions race days were special and something different.
“It’s a massive day, a big crowd and a lot of interstate jockeys, so for me it’s like grand final day,” he said.
“I loved the day and I seemed to have my best days there.
“You kind of know that things can snowball if you have a bit of luck there on a big stage, because everybody’s watching on that day.
“You try to treat it like a normal day, but because of all the hype, your adrenalin is already going.
“It’s good to be a part of it. If I wasn’t riding on that day, I’d feel like I was missing out on something.”
Phelan Ready went on to win the Golden Slipper later that year, but fate intervened for Holder, who just a week after the 2009 Magic Millions had a serious race fall at Eagle Farm. Injuries sustained in the fall saw him miss seven months of riding.
The multiple Adelaide premiership winner eventually returned to South Australia and quickly reclaimed his standing as one of the state’s premier jockeys, retaining that ranking today.
His prowess will be on show for all to see at the 2021 Magic Millions race day at Murray Bridge, featuring the 2YO Classic, worth $202,250 and open to horses sold at Magic Millions sales.
The race was previously held on Adelaide Cup Day, but has been moved forward nine days to increase its prominence in the lead-up to the annual Adelaide Yearling Sale and create another marquee, standalone meeting for the Murray Bridge Racing Club’s acclaimed Gifford Hill facility.
The move reflects Magic Millions’ endorsement of recent funding boosts to the SA Breeders’ and Owners’ Incentive Scheme (SABOIS), which rewards all those connected with qualified horses that run in designated SABOIS races.
Key dates of the 2021 SA program:
- Saturday, February 27 – Magic Millions SA 2YO Classic race day at Murray Bridge
- Saturday, March 6 – Morphettville Parks meeting
- Monday, March 8 – Adelaide Cup Day at Morphettville
- Tuesday-Wednesday, March 9-10 – Adelaide Yearling Sale
The new Murray Bridge meeting will become a SABOIS Bonus Day, with the owners of the first SABOIS horse home in each race receiving a $10,000 voucher – a 50/50 split between TRSA and Magic Millions – to be spent at the 2021 Adelaide Yearling Sale on an eligible SABOIS yearling.