Four Group One winners headline the field for the Group Two Australia Stakes at The Valley including Malaguerra who will be aiming to win the weight-for-age race for a second time.
A field of 10 has been declared for Friday night’s feature under lights with the other elite-level winners in the line-up being Brave Smash, Redkirk Warrior and Land Of Plenty.
Victoria’s premier trainer Darren Weir is set to have four runners with Brave Smash and Land Of Plenty to be joined by exciting prospect Fifty Stars and last-start Standish Handicap winner Whispering Brook.
Malaguerra finished third in the Group One Winterbottom Stakes (1200m) in Perth on December 1 in his second start back from a year off the scene and the 2017 Australia Stakes winner cruised home to win a recent jump-out at Cranbourne in preparation for his return.
“He’s going very well,” Manny Gelagotis, brother and racing manager to trainer Peter Gelagotis, said.
“He has trialled well since coming back from Perth and he’s right on target.
“We’re really expecting him on Friday night to run really well.”
Malaguerra got to the front with 100m to go in the Winterbottom before Voodoo Lad finished over the top of him to beat him by a length, with Enticing Star finishing second.
“He had blinkers on and he hit the front and I don’t know whether he could see those horses coming,” Gelagotis said.
“But he had had a year off and it was just very good to see him run well.”
Malaguerra has a gear change for Friday night’s race, with the gelding to wear visors for the first time which gives horses a bit more peripheral vision than blinkers.