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Image: Steve Hart
Top hoop James McDonald was singing the praises of Espiona after her impressive midweek win

James Mcdonald has described Star Thoroughbreds filly Espiona as “an excitement machine” after her brilliant debut win at a rain-sodden Warwick Farm.

By Extreme Choice, the sire of Golden Slipper winner Stay Inside, Espiona was tardy out of the gates before improving along the fence to settle fourth in the small field.

Travelling sweetly, McDonald eased the $1.45 favourite off heels and she moved up to leader and stablemate Arranmore before spearing clear to win Wednesday’s Merchant Navy @ Coolmore Plate (1200m) by 3-1/2 lengths.

It was a Waller trifecta with Arranmore ($8.50) holding second ahead of Lady Piaf ($11).

“She’s had a beautiful grounding. She is very well educated with the three trials,” McDonald told Sky Thoroughbred Central.

“He (Waller) could easily have taken her to the races because she is an excitement machine. (But) they put her out, brought her back and obviously she’s going to be a ‘goodie’ to play around with.

“She just oozes so much class and when I asked her to accelerate, it felt like I was on good ground.

“The track is probably close to a heavy, but I can’t wait for her to get on good ground and see what she can do as well.”

The Waller-McDonald combination made it a race-to-race double when the beautifully bred Gracilistyla broke his maiden in the Admire Mars At Arrowfield Handicap (1400m).

Out of Waller’s former top mare Catkins, Gracilistyla relished the soft conditions to score by more than three lengths and stable representative Damien Fitton said the three-year-old was open to vast improvement.

Gracilistyla is raced by the Ingham family who also owned Catkins.

“That was a really impressive win today. Well done to the Ingham family. I’m sure they got a big thrill out of that being out of Catkins,” Fitton said.

“She was a swimmer, she loved the wet and he did too.

“He’s still immature and he’s still got a lot of developing to do. It’s pretty exciting times ahead.”

Waller and McDonald will be chasing a significant pay day at Randwick on Saturday when they team up with Nature Strip in $15 million The Everest (1200m).

 
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