Match her pedigree to the occasion and it seems obvious why Stefi Magnetica rates as one of the genuine lightweight chances in the Stradbroke Handicap.

Stefi Magnetica
Stefi Magnetica will be attempting to go one better than she did in the Surround Stakes. (Photo: Jeremy Ng/Getty Images)

A filly who has come a long way within the past 12 months, Stefi Magnetica will be trying to emulate her mother Mid Summer Music’s success in Queensland’s signature race.

That was in 2012, and it was during this era that another horse in Peter Moody’s stable captured all the headlines.

As her famous stablemate Black Caviar was preparing for what would later be revealed as her greatest challenge at Royal Ascot, Mid Summer Music momentarily emerged from the great mare’s shadow to give Queensland-born Moody his first - and so far only victory - in a Group 1 contest that has underpinned the Brisbane winter for much of its 134-year existence.

But while the synergy attached to Stefi Magnetica’s bid in the $3 million race can’t be ignored, in reality, the filly’s presence has more to do with a departure in programming than any pre-meditated salute to the most important win of her mother’s career.

In a season when emerging bloodstock force Cunningham Thoroughbreds inked a multi-million dollar stallion deal for their Magic Millions 2YO Classic winner Storm Boy, their filly Stefi Magnetica has worked her way from an unassuming NSW bush victory to be a legitimate Stradbroke contender.

A narrow Group 1 defeat a few starts later in the Surround Stakes would be a more logical reward for a serious winter campaign, but that’s not how Stefi Magnetica’s arrival in Brisbane has unfolded.

“Initially we were going to put her away for some of those spring races, they were sort of at the front of mind and we were going to give her a good spell,” Mitch Cunningham said.

“We brought her back to the farm and she was just doing so well. She's the sort of horse that I think prefers to be in work.

“And so we pivoted and thought, look, we can have her racing until the winter in Brisbane. It wasn't always the plan, but she's just a good-doing horse.”

Mitch Cunningham
Mitch Cunningham and bloodstock agent Jim Clarke. (Photo: Magic Millions)

Stefi Magnetica will be trying to do something for trainer Bjorn Baker as a three-year-old that Mid Summer Music did as a six-year-old towards the end of a 31-start career in which the Stradbroke was the standout among 11 victories.

It would be an achievement - even one for the record books - and Cunningham admits her time has arrived much sooner than expected.

“She does strike me as a sort of filly who will get better as she gets older based on her pedigree, for sure,” he said.

“But she is certainly one that has been exponentially improving and hopefully that continues into the Stradbroke.

“It's a huge ask for her, but she's certainly not going there to make up the numbers.”

Stefi Magnetica will be at the forefront of what promises to be a Stradbroke day full of anticipation for the Cunningham family.

“It's a huge ask for her, but she's certainly not going there to make up the numbers.” - Mitch Cunningham

As an example of how one of the thoroughbred world’s relative newcomers has embraced the challenge of breeding and racing, the Cunningham family also has runners in the Group 1 JJ Atkins and the Brisbane Cup.

It’s a snapshot of a diverse approach to investing that complements a passion for racing with a serious intent to build a bloodstock portfolio that taps into rich pedigrees, highly commercial sires, potential future stallions, a serious dive into the weanling market and a collection of overseas horses bred on stamina lines.

As part of a Rosemont colts’ syndicate, Bosustow will carry their hopes in the Atkins and the Cunninghams’ increasingly familiar navy with gold sash silks will be worn on imported stayer Mostly Cloudy, the favourite to win the Brisbane Cup.

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Stefi Magnetica cost $140,000 as a Magic Millions yearling in a purchase that represented good buying to the Cunninghams and the astute eye of their bloodstock advisor Jim Clarke.

“We obviously race quite a few horses and given we own Ridgmont Farm we are sort of scratching both itches when we buy well-pedigreed fillies,” Cunningham said.

“We love the racing side of things but should they go on and reach the potential we see on the page as a yearling, then they would be good additions to our broodmare band.”

A daughter of All Too Hard, Stefi Magnetica presented for sale as a “neater yearling” without the price tag that is usually associated with super sires such as I Am Invincible, Snitzel or Zoustar.

“I think there's a lot of value in buying those sort of horses at the yearling sales,” Cunningham said.

“You know, All Too Hard is not one of the sexiest stallions in Australia and he's often competing with the top stallions and the sexier first-season sires.

“But the reality is that he's in that mould of Pride Of Dubai and So You Think where perhaps they don't get you the sales part, but more often than not, they'll get you a racehorse.”

Jim Clarke
Jim Clarke assessing horses on Ridgmont. (Photo: Ridgmont)

Previously known as Glastonbury Farms in another life, Ridgmont Farm is situated opposite Darley near Scone and is home to an increasing number of Cunningham family broodmares.

“We've probably got 50 to 60 broodmares on the farm full-time now and that number is slowly growing and certainly Ridgmont is our focus,” Cunningham said.

“The breeding is our focus. The racing side of things is equally significant and it's something we all enjoy doing together. But it acts as a feeder system into our broodmare bands.”

Additions include Annavisto, a stakes-winning Reliable Man mare purchased in foal to Swettenham Stud’s Toronado out of the recent Magic Millions National Sale for $850,000.

Annavisto has joined the Ridgmont broodmare band (Photo: Magic Millions)

Yonce (Proisir) and Youthfull (So You Think) were also recently purchased for $340,000 and $180,000, respectively, under the Ridgmont banner.

“We have Annavisto right at the top of the pecking order at the farm now as far as our broodmare credentials go,” Cunningham said.

“And so she'll be a foundational mare for us over the years to come.

“We probably pushed the boat out more than I had envisaged before we went to the sale. But sometimes you’ve just got to be brave.”

Cunningham, who also signed for a $500,000 Frankel colt at the recent Magic Millions National Weanling Sale, is no doubt hoping Stefi Magnetica is just as spirited against established sprinters in the Stradbroke.