Begg lands final G1 of Melbourne spring

Perserverance has paid off for trainer Grahame Begg who captured the final Group 1 race of the Melbourne Spring Carnival with Magic Time. 

Begg was looking forward to the Spring Carnival but had his Caulfield Cup hope Nonconformist withdrawn on the eve of the race, while his Melbourne Cup Lunar Flare went amiss 10 days before the big race at Flemington. 

Saturday's Group 1 Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield was not originally on the radar for Magic Time, but Begg made the call to switch the filly back from Sydney with a pleasing result. "It's been challenging to say the least. This is great," he said. 

Michael Dee and Magic Time claim the Group 1 Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes; picture Racing Photos

Sent out the $4.80 favourite under Michael Dee, Magic Time scored by a length from I Am Me ($6.50), with Strait Acer ($12) a neck away third. 

Magic Time was lining up for her eighth start on Saturday, with the majority of her runs being in Sydney. Begg had the mare aimed at The Invitation at Randwick last month, in which she finished third, and was planning a start in the Hot Danish Stakes at Rosehill last Saturday. 

"But I thought I'd bring her back, run her in the handicap with 53 [kilos] on her back," Begg said. "I thought it was a great race for her. 1400 metres, good speed on, it was the right recipe for her, and she's got the job done." 

Begg admitted to concerns prior to the race with racing at Caulfield on Saturday favouring horses racing near the lead and near the fence. But Begg told Dee to not change plans aboard the mare. 

"I said to Michael to be positive out of the gates, but get cover, don't work up the hill and give her the opportunity to round her race off and she certainly did that," Begg said. 

Dee said the race did not pan out at all well after jumping from a wide gate. He stated he was caught three wide in the race and then pushed even wider on the home turn. 

"I thought for a stage I would be able to slot in with cover, but I couldn't," Dee said. "All that I could do then was keep her comfortable and in a nice rhythm, and keep her as comfortable as possible, get around the bend before I asked her for the ultimate question. She just absolutely took off. 

"Credit to Grahame and his team for getting her here. I'm sure Grahame mentioned it's been a bit of an unlucky spring for him, so to get a Group 1 and to top it off, it's amazing and Grahame has given me a lot of support for a long time now." 

What the beaten jockeys reported:

Damien Oliver (Vilana): “He ran ok. The tempo was a bit strong for him. I think he likes it better when he can travel a bit better and find his feet.”

Blake Shinn (I Am Me): “Ran absolutely phenomenal. Jumped well, we got into a good position. She was there to win. She gave me a good feel. The winner was a bit better on the day but she’s up to Group 1.”

Mark Zahra (Strait Acer): “DId a good job to run third. Obviously the way the track is playing, rode accordingly and a big horse, I would have liked a bit of room sooner but still he ran well under the circumstances.”

Jordan Childs (Bandersnatch): “He ran as well as he could. Couldn’t be going any better. Very happy with that.”

Craig Williams (Skew Wiff): “Her run was excellent, like the winner’s. The way the track is playing today, anything away from the rail and off the speed is a big run. We were in the three-wide line two spot off the winner. The winner was excellent and we were very good under the circumstances.”

Jake Noonan (The Inferno): “Found a nice spot following the winner. Tracked up competitively from the 600 (metre mark) and gave us a good sight but just didn’t let go like his best. Back to the drawing board and see how he pulls up.”

Daniel Moor (Ayrton): “I ended up further back in the run than I would have liked. Obviously a race of high pressure. He had to overcome some interference. To find the line the way he did was admirable.”

Beau Mertens (Zoutori): “Had the right run. Rails opened up for him if he was there to present but I didn’t have the horse to take me through it.”

Celine Gaudray (Buffalo River): “The wide draw did us no favours and had to do too cuh work to get there. He never relaxed.”

Billy Egan (Chain Of Lightning): “Something went amiss. She how she pulls upGot hit from behind somewhere in the straight which took the wind out of him as well.

Luke Currie (Munhamek): “He ran well. He had to go right back and rode him for luck but if he drew  gate he would have been thereabouts.”

Jamie Kah (Cause For Concern): ““Track was just a bit form for him today.”

Linda Meech (General Beau): “Just did too much work.”

Daniel Stackhouse (Crosshaven): “Disappointing. He didn’t stick very well. Struggled to travel off that hot speed and had to ride for a bit of luck. Bit disappointing second-up.”

Dean Yendall (Wrote To Arataki): “Got a little excited at the 400 (metre mark).”