Second Sapphire Lucky For Magic Muffin?

It's almost two decades since Paul Bartolo won the Sapphire Crown, something bookmakers have him favourite to emulate on Thursday night at Sandown Park.

EYEING a second victory in the Group 1 Sapphire Crown on Thursday night – 18 years after his first – trainer Paul Bartolo believes 2023 runner-up Magic Muffin is a "big chance" to go one better.

Magic Muffin finished second to Baby Jaycee in last year's bitches-only feature, beaten half a length.

However, she was involved in a race-changing bump with Wow She's Fast, as the now-retired champion appeared set to take control of Sandown Park's prestigious female feature.

"She collided with Wow She's Fast on the first turn," Bartolo recalled.

"Magic Muffin is only 25 kilos but she gave Wow She's Fast a hip and shoulder and put Wow She's Fast out of the race."

Fast forward 12 months and Magic Muffin, a January '21 daughter of Fernando Bale and Veloso, is the fastest qualifier for the $100,000 to-the-winner Sapphire Crown.

Magic Muffin has returned to her best form, clocking 29.31 seconds in a Free For All at Sandown, followed by a 29.46 victory in her Sapphire heat, leading all-the-way on both occasions.


"Once she gets on the bunny she runs time," Bartolo said.

"The track wasn't real quick earlier in the night last week either.

"When she started racing, I did say to Ray (son and part-owner) that she would break 29 seconds at Sandown!

"She hasn't been able to do that, but she's run 29.17 there and she's gone 29.68 at The Meadows.

"She's regained her confidence now.

"She got knocked around a bit, so we turned her out for a few weeks late last year.

"She wasn't beginning, but she was still chasing and going through the field, so it was quite mind-boggling."

Magic Muffin produced comfortably the quickest heat performance, with the other three winners all running in the 29.60s.

After drawing box four, she shares favouritism at $3 with rails runner Cruising Debbie, a 29.68 heat winner for Brendan Pursell.

"If she can jump with them she's got to be a big chance," Bartolo said.

"But she's got to come out.

"The red (Cruising Debbie) does have a lot of early pace, but if Muffin can sit behind her, I think she should be able to run her down."

Bartolo won the 2006 Sapphire with superstar Betty's Angel, the Australian Greyhound of the Year and Melbourne Cup winner.

While it mightn't be the Melbourne Cup, Bartolo says training a Group 1 winner for his son Ray, who bred and races Magic Muffin with New Zealand-based friend Chris Earl, would be incredibly special.

"Betty's Angel was such a consistent beginner; she jumped 90 per cent of the time," Bartolo said.

"Winning the Melbourne Cup was something else, but I'd be thrilled to win a big race for Ray.

"I'd be happier for Ray than for us!"

Interestingly, Magic Muffin doesn't hail from the Bartolo family's potent ‘Leprechaun' dam-line, being a great grand-daughter of champion two-time Sapphire heroine Paua To Burn.

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