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Australian Racing: Magic Time can cast a spell over rivals

There’s Group 1 action in both Melbourne and Sydney on Saturday with the Newmarket Handicap the highlight of the day at Flemington.

Race 5 Flemington

Magic Time @ 7.00

Race 7 Randwick

Espiona @ 3.20

Race 8 Randwick

Celestial Legend @ 4.20

Magic to upset Imperatriz

The previously mentioned Group 1 Newmarket Handicap is set to take place over 1200m down the straight at Flemington.

The defections of Espiona and Rey Magnerio means a field of 12 are set to go to post, headed by superstar Imperatriz.

The former New Zealand-trained sprinter is the winner of all five starts since switching to Australia ,with four of those wins coming at the highest level.

The mare was spelled following a win over this course and distance in the Group 1 Champions Sprint in November.

Opie Bosson’s mount resumed with a narrow margin success in the Group 1 Lightning Stakes over 1000m here last month and she is expected to prove hard to beat.

However she has to concede weight to all of her rivals here and, while she rates a very worthy favourite, the improving MAGIC TIME is selected after receiving five kilograms in weight.

The four-year-old filly is the winner of five of her eight previous starts, including by a length when seeing off 15 rivals in the Group 1 Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes over 1400m at Caulfield in November.

The selection has been off the track since, save for a fifth in an 800m barrier trial at Cranbourne early last month.

Trained by Grahame Begg, the pick has won first up in the past and has underfoot conditions to suit.

The drop back in distance should not pose too many issues for the daughter of Hellbent, who won over this trip in a Rosehill Group 3 in October.

Espiona for Canterbury success

The 1400m Canterbury Stakes is the first of two Group 1’s set to take place at Randwick.

Think About It won two of his three starts in his last prep and is expected to jump as favourite for the race.

Trained by Joseph Pride, both of those victories came at this venue, including when saluting by under half-a-length in the Everest over 1200m in October.

The gelding ended his 2023 campaign with a good third when beaten just over a length in the Giga Kick Stakes over 1300m at Rosehill.

The extra distance shouldn’t pose any issues here, having won the Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap at Eagle Farm last June, however ESPIONA is preferred.

Chris Waller’s mare also held an engagement in the previously mentioned Newmarket Handicap and it’s of note that the daughter of Extreme Choice heads here.

The five-year-old has made just two appearances since taking The Invitation over 1400m at Randwick at the end of October.

The second of those efforts saw the pick place third in the Group 1 Lightning Stakes when racing over 1000m down the straight at Flemington.

James McDonald is an eye-catching jockey booking for the mare and she is selected to register her eighth win in 20 career starts.

Legend for Guineas glory

The eighth race of the day at Randwick is the Group 1 Randwick Guineas over 1600m.

There are 11 three-year-old’s who are set to line up for the race, with CELESTIAL LEGEND the selection following an improved effort when stepped up to 1400m at Rosehill last month.

The pick came home nearly two lengths clear of his nearest rival when taking out the Group 2 Hobartville Stakes on that occasion.

The colt had previously been racing in sprints but drew clear of his rivals that day in the style of a horse who would have no issues with the 1600m distance he tackles here.

Les Bridge’s representative has a wide alley to overcome here but, given he is often ridden from off the pace, that should not pose too many issues.

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