RICK Hore-Lacy has trained some champions in his long career, including Blue Diamond Stakes winner and super sire Redoute's Choice and Golden Slipper hero Canny Lad.
So when he says his two-year-old Clevadude can bear comparison with those two, then bookies, punters and connections of rival Magic Millions contenders would be well advised to pay attention.
Clevadude, a son of Bel Esprit, made $225,000 at the second Magic Millions sale as a yearling, but the gelding could deliver a big return on that investment at the Gold Coast on January 12.
The galloper was urged out of the barriers quickly by Craig Newitt in the 1000-metre event at Moonee Valley on Saturday and was never headed - nor extended - to win by a comfortable 4½ lengths from the David Hayes-prepared newcomer The Yowie.
Clevadude justified the odds of $1.55, but this race, although it carried $80,000 in prizemoney, was of secondary importance. The youngster simply needed to show that he had progressed since his debut win at Cranbourne a fortnight earlier and was on course to justify the confidence of those who have already supported him for the Magic Millions.
Hore-Lacy now plans to fly the horse to the Gold Coast a few days before the race and is brimming with confidence.
''He's got the perfect temperament for a racehorse and he looks the real deal. There will be plenty of opposition [in Queensland] but this bloke will take some beating, particularly if he's lucky enough to draw a [good] gate,'' he said.
''He was always a beautiful yearling. He was in the second sale. This groom at Eliza Park said 'Rick, you should have a look at this one'. I did and I thought 'my God, what a beautiful horse', and I hung around for him and got him.''
Hore-Lacy knew from an early stage that Clevadude was above average as he had impressed in jump-outs at Caulfield. He is also not concerned about his ability to race in a different direction in Queensland.
''Those 800-metre jump-outs at Caulfield, if you miss the start and you can take off and go around them and win them easy, then you have to have a bloody good horse because [Peter] Moody and [Mick] Price and those others have got a lot of smart horses. And that's what this bloke did on two occasions,'' Hore-Lacy said.
''We have worked the other way … he's worked plenty of evens and come home a furlong or two a bit quicker, so that's [the reverse direction] not going to pose a problem for him at all.''
So, is he as good as Canny Lad or Redoute's Choice?
''He could be up there with them. He's got to win a Blue Diamond or a Golden Slipper before you can really make that remark,'' he said
But as a gelding he will never have the same future as those horses.
''I am bleeding. He struck out one day and nearly got me, he was rearing up going on the walker and took a big flap of skin off his shin, and when he did that, I thought he had gone to the point of no return, I thought he was too big, too bully, too heavy. I made the decision to geld him, rang all the owners and I was crying too because I thought he would be a good horse.
''If you keep them a colt and they are like that, they are not concentrating on the job and you will never make a racehorse out of them.''