Linda Meech has stepped in for the sidelined Luke Nolen to guide Magic Millions Guineas hopeful Miss Wonderland to victory as a short-priced favourite at Flemington.
Nolen was due to ride the $1.55 favourite in Saturday’s Isca Handicap (1100m) but was stood down after he came off his mount after the finish of the opening race.
Meech got the nod to partner the talented filly and Miss Wonderland, who had 60kg, raced on the speed into the breeze and responded in the final 100m to win by half a length over the closing Toorak Rose with Ponte Roma 1-1/4 lengths away.
Trainer Ciaron Maher and syndicator Wylie Dalziel have the $2 million Magic Millions 3YO Guineas (1400m) on January 14 at the Gold Coast in their sights and Dalziel hopes the filly has enough prize money to secure a place in the field.
He said the likely plan was to run at Canterbury in two weeks and hopefully win again to book a place in the Gold Coast race.
Miss Wonderland was having her third start on Saturday.
She won on debut at Pakenham by six lengths in June then resumed with a third placing in a Group Three race for fillies at Flemington early last month.
“Ciaron will have her spot-on for the Magic Millions race,” Dalziel said.
“So there’s plenty more left to come but obviously she had to be fit enough to beat this lot today.”
Dalziel said he had had a long association with Nolen and Meech, having raced horses with former trainer Peter Moody for whom Nolen and Meech had been stable jockeys.
Meech believes Miss Wonderland has a bright future and said she did a good job to win on Saturday after being a “sitting duck” for her opposition.
“I think she’s a really nice filly,” Meech said.
“She did it the hard way. She’s tough and when I asked her she really knuckled down.”