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The Spring Carnival starts in earnest for two of the Ciaron Maher and David Eustace Group 1 winners from last season

Group 1 winners Sir Dragonet and Explosive Jack may be underdone for their first-up runs at Flemington, but their trainers are looking towards the future.

The Ciaron Maher and David Eustace-trained gallopers resume in the Group 1 Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m) at Flemington on Saturday ahead of bigger spring targets.

Three-time Derby winner Explosive Jack is on a path towards the Caulfield Cup and Melbourne Cup while Sir Dragonet will be out to defend his crown in the Cox Plate at The Valley.

Maher said Sir Dragonet and Explosive Jack were not wound up for Saturday’s return but were coming on nicely.

Both spent time on the NSW coast at Newcastle after their Queensland campaigns before making their way to Victoria, working at Maher’s Fingal property, while each had a trial over 1190m at Cranbourne on August 30.

Maher said the trials had been important to the conditioning of the pair but added they would be well short of their top for Saturday.

“They won’t be winning it, I wouldn’t think, but they’ve really come on since their trials,” Maher said.

“They’ll want the run, probably a second one, and then they’ll hit their straps.”

Maher said Sir Dragonet seemed in a good spot at present.

“He’s a horse that thrives on racing and a lot of work,” Maher said.

“That was evident in the All-Star Mile and then he got better when he went to Sydney.”

Maher said Explosive Jack, who won the Tasmanian, Australian and South Australian Derbies last season, also thrived on hard work.

“He’s a big four-year-old horse that needs work,” Maher said.

“He needed work when he was a three-year-old and thrived on it.”

The pair are among 19 nominations for the Makybe Diva Stakes that includes Aegon, Incentivise, Inspirational Girl, Keiai Nautique, Mo’Unga and Tofane.

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