Michael Formosa pictures big things for colt

MICHAEL Formosa does not know how far or fast boom colt Ultimate Art can go.

One thing is certain, the Ellalong trainer-driver is looking forward to the ride.

Ultimate Art made a one-act affair of the Bathurst Gold Crown Final (1730metres) on Saturday to give Formosa his first group1 success in 20 years of harness racing.

But the two-year-old flyer’s performance suggested Formosa will not have to wait long for classic No.2.

A $7000 purchase at the Australian Pacing Gold sales last March, Ultimate Art won by 3.2m and recorded a mile rate of one minute and 58.4seconds, the third-fastest in the history of the two-year old feature.

‘‘Horses that win the Gold Crown generally go on to bigger things,’’ Formosa said. ‘‘I have won plenty of good races and driven in group1s before, but this is the first time I was a good chance of winning.

‘‘Thankfully, everything fell in to place. I was quite nervous before the final.

‘‘Leading up to it everything went so well. We had nice draws and ran good times. We kept waking up every morning thinking something would be wrong.’’

Truth be told, Formosa’s once-in-a-lifetime horse could easily have ended up in someone else’s hands.

Formosa knocked back a six-figure offer from Melbourne interests for the colt on the eve of the final.

‘‘The first offer for him came after he won the heat,’’ said Formosa whose wife Kirsty owns the colt. ‘‘Then after the barrier draw they kept upping the ante.

‘‘We bought him to make money, but he is a once-in-a-lifetime horse. I’m glad we didn’t sell him.

‘‘I actually qualified three horses for the final. One of the others, Wallis King, we sold the day before the final.

‘‘We got offered a lot more for our guy but I thought he was a better horse.

‘‘It would have been horrible to watch your horse win 24 hours after he left the stable.’’

Formosa’s next assignment for Ultimate Art is the $125,000 NSW Breeders Challenge Series for two-year-olds.

The first of a number of heats across the state will be held at Newcastle next Thursday. The semi-finals and finals will be at Menangle on June 9 and 24 respectively.

‘‘Heat winners are guaranteed a place in semis and the rest is done on points,’’ Formosa said.

‘‘Hopefully we can win our heat, have a little break, and come back for the semis.’’

Ultimate Art has won four of his five starts and collected $66,050 – nearly 10 times his purchase price.

‘‘We expected to pay double that,’’ said Formosa, who has 15 pacers in work.

‘‘We looked at him four or five times, and the more we looked at him the dearer we thought he was going to be.

‘‘He was a big horse and had a bit of a presence about him. His breeding was the first thing I went for; he was by Modern Art and was well-bred second dam back.

‘‘When we got him so cheap I was thinking maybe I missed something.

‘‘But he hasn’t had a blemish. Everything has just fallen into place.’’

Formosa will be hoping to follow up his Bathurst success at Newcastle today with Wunder Ranger and Nine Card Player.

Stable foreman Michelle Neilson will take the reins on Wunder Ranger, which is chasing back-to-back wins on the track.

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