Daring to dream with Paniagua

Daring to dream with Paniagua

Horses
BIG PLANS: Country Cups Challenge winner Paniagua has been entered for The Gateway and if successful would earn a start in the 2021 Stradbroke Handicap. Photo Michael McInally, Racing Queensland

BIG PLANS: Country Cups Challenge winner Paniagua has been entered for The Gateway and if successful would earn a start in the 2021 Stradbroke Handicap. Photo Michael McInally, Racing Queensland

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Mareeba marvel Paniagua has been entered for a $250,000 event at Eagle Farm in Brisbane on December 12

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NORTH Queensland connections of Paniagua are daring to dream after entering the gelding for Saturday's The Gateway at Eagle Farm.

The $250,000, 1400 metres The Gateway offers the winner a starting place in the 2021 Stradbroke Handicap, Queensland's richest open event.

New trainer Glen Baker is uncertain at this stage whether Paniagua (Tycoon Ruler-Danni Sharleen) will be an acceptor for this weekend's assignment.

But he admitted former trainer Alex Maliff was within his right to lodge a nomination.

"You can't win it if you're not in it," Baker said.

"It looks like a red hot race going on the horses already nominated but he has earned his place. We will wait and see about accepting.

"I know Alex is happy for the horse to have a couple of runs down this way before having a break and then getting ready for the winter races. Whether those winter races are down here or on the Cups circuit up north will be worked out later.

"The remarkable features with this horse are his will to win and his versatility. He can run fast enough to win at 1100m and can win up to 2100m and he just knows how to find the winning post

"That puts a lot of races within his reach."

Paniagua, bought online with a solitary bid of $600 after failing miserably on debut and at his next outing for the Michael Frappell stable, stretched his winning sequence to eight on-the-trot last Saturday when successful in the $105,000 TAB Country Cups Challenge (1600m) at Doomben.

Maliff said it was his best moment in racing.

"I'm just a country trainer and I've never had a horse good to take anywhere further south than Mackay," the Mareeba-based Maliff said.

"This horse has done amazing things and taken me on a fabulous ride.

"He is certainly the best $600 I've ever spent."

Maliff also likes to consider Paniagua as the ideal understudy to The Harrovian, another North Queensland-owned performer with a lengthening winning record and a cult following.

Twenty horses have been entered for The Gateway, headed by Rockhampton sprinter Master Jamie.

Paniagua is the sixth highest rated entrant with a mark of 84 behind the Graeme Green-trained Master Jamie (90), Criaderas (James Cummings, 89.5), Profit (Chris Anderson, 87.5), Frosty Rocks (Bjorn Baker, 87.5) and Enchanted Heart (Kris Lees, 87.5).

The Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott stable has also entered two-time winner Yao Dash (80 rater) for the event.

The Gateway at Eagle Farm on December 12: 1 Master Jamie (Graeme Green), 2 Criaderas (James Cummings), 3 Profit (Chris Anderson), 4 Frosty Rocks (Bjorn Baker), 5 Enchanted Heart (Kris Lees), 6 Paniagua (Glen Baker), 7 Stampe (Chris Munce), 8 Wapiti (Gary Duncan), 9 Stuttering (Rob Heathcote), 10 Yao Dash (Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott), 11 The Sinner (Natalie McCall), 12 Scathing (Munce), 13 Vinco (Tony Gollan), 14 Mishani Blossom (Les Ross), 15 Angus The Black (Gollan), 16 Smart Meteor (Munce), 17 Love Express (Duncan), 18 Dee Day Diva (Heathcote), 19 Degas (Munce) and 20 Barney's Law (Mark Currie).

The story Daring to dream with Paniagua first appeared on Queensland Country Life.

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