Warwick Farm-based trainer Joseph Pride could have just one runner in this year’s Queen Elizabeth Stakes with his Doncaster Mile winning mare Sacred Choice assured of a run but his multiple Group 1 champion Vision And Power needing a scratching to make the field.
Pride is admittedly annoyed that his veteran galloper Vision And Power, winner of the 2009 Doncaster Mile – George Ryder Stakes double, missed the cut for the $500,000 Group 1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) at Randwick’s Sydney Cup Day on Easter Saturday.
The rising nine-year-old is installed as the sole emergency and will only gain a start in the weight-for-age feature if one of the other 14 acceptors is scratched.
Although Vision And Power has failed to enter the winners circle since his Doncaster Mile success over two years ago, Pride believes the Carnegie gelding has shown recent good form to suggest he would be a competitive addition to the Queen Elizabeth Stakes.
“I was surprised and I’m disappointed, the horse is ready to go,” Pride said.
“I just think it’s stupid rules that deny horses chances that when you look at a market, and I haven’t seen a market yet, but there’s five or six horses that there’s no way in the world they could beat him and he doesn’t get a run before them.
“If it was the Doncaster the week before he gets into the race ahead of three-quarters of the field and that’s done off the benchmark, so why have a benchmark?”
The Queen Elizabeth Stakes ballot conditions go off the average prize money per start earned for a horse’s past 10 runs and Vision And Power had the lowest figure of the 15 acceptors.
After a winning 1200m barrier trial at Warwick Farm in February, Vision And Power failed to impress in his first two runs this prep finishing dead last in both the Group 2 Apollo Stakes (1400m) and the Group 1 Chipping Norton Stakes (1600m).
He began to show improvement when just over a length away fifth to Older Than Time in the Listed Sky High Stakes (1900m) at Rosehill in March before finishing seventh to fellow Queen Elizabeth Stakes rival Syreon in the Group 3 Queen’s Cup (2000m) on Golden Slipper Day.
At his most recent start Vision And Power was two and a half lengths away fifth to Chris Waller’s upset winner My Kingdom Of Fife in the Group 3 Doncaster Mile Prelude (1600m), a credible result after overcoming a wide barrier draw.
“His lead-up run was super,” Pride said of Vision And Power’s performance in the Doncaster Mile Prelude.
“The wet track is the key, if he gets on a wet track there should be some scratching, but I can’t count on it.”
Vision And Power is rated a $26 chance of making the field and winning the Queen Elizabeth Stakes, markets lead by Peter Snowden’s $3.80 favourite Retrieve.
Pride will still be represented in the 2011 Queen Elizabeth Stakes, however, by five-year-old Choisir mare Sacred Choice who would also greatly advantage from a Heavy Randwick track on Saturday.
The known mudlark became a dual Group 1 winner last Saturday relishing the wet conditions to take control and race home two lengths clear of Love Conquers All in the Doncaster Mile at Randwick.
Sacred Choice’s previous Group 1 win, and last victory prior to the Doncaster, was in the 2010 Myer Classic where similar wet conditions saw her easily defeat the now-retired Typhoon Tracy by an emphatic four and a half lengths.
“I’m happy with her and we’re going to give her a go at this race on Saturday and then make some decisions after that,” Pride said.
Sacred Choice occupies the third line of Queen Elizabeth Stakes betting at $5.50.
Jockey Tim Clark, aboard for the Doncaster win, will again ride Sacred Choice seeking back-to-back Group 1 victories.
“She is obviously very well suited on heavy ground and she is very fit,” Clark said of Sacred Choice.
Although Sacred Choice is the more fancied of Pride’s pair, the trainer is backing an upset if Vision And Power gets in.
“I like him over her,” Pride said.
“I would never say he is better than when he won the Doncaster but he has been set for this race.
“We missed last week to have him right for the Queen Elizabeth and I just really like the look of him at the moment.”