Nordic Empire has been officially scratched from the 2014 Magic Millions Classic (1400m) after scans found that the classy colt had suffered muscle tears.
Trainer Mick Price informed Racing Victoria stewards yesterday that Nordic Empire had pulled up sore behind his near side and sent the Wilander colt for scans to confirm whether he had suffered muscle damage.
Ultrasound scans found that Nordic Empire had suffered muscle tears in both his near hip and hamstring, which forced Price to rule the two-year-old out of the $2 million event that will be run at the Gold Coast this weekend.
Nordic Empire stamped himself as a leading contender for the Magic Millions Classic with an impressive debut win in the Flemington Equine Clinic Plate (1000m) at Caulfield on November 30 and was far from disgraced when finishing an unlucky third behind Invisible and Jetwings in the TAB IPad App Plate (1200m) at Canterbury on December 28.
Nordic Empire’s place in the 2014 Magic Millions Classic field will be taken by Liam Birchley-trained Sagatona, who has impressed without recording a maiden race win in three starts.
Sagatona made her racing debut with a third place finish behind Celestial Dragon and Eljetem in the Breakfast Creek Hotel Handicap (1110m) at Doomben on November 30 before finishing an unlucky forth behind Celestial Dragon, Burleigh Bullet and Divine Service in the Racing Retro Handicap (1100m) at Doomben on December 21.
The Real Saga filly backed up in the Group 3 B.J. McLachlan Stakes (1200m) just a week later and worked home strongly to finish third behind Unencumbered and Stroak – beating home Oakleigh Girl, Totally Sure, Pinch River and Echo Gal who are all backing up in the Magic Millions Classic this weekend.
Sagatona produced a brilliant performance with blinkers on in a barrier trial at Deagon last Thursday and Birchley, who also has Ruby Soho in the field, is hopeful that the juvenile can give connections a maiden win in the Magic Millions Classic.
“I would like to think it’s a good omen if Sagatona gets in,” Birchley told The Courier Mail.
“Not only that, but both sets of connections have had beaten favourites in the race previously.
“They say the breed are real blinker horses and she raced a bit patchy last start, but you had to like what she did in the trial.”
Birchley has gone close to winning the Magic Millions Classic in the past; with Paprika finishing second behind Phelan Ready in the 2009 edition of the race and Missy Longstocking finishing third last year.