A number of the upcoming 2011 Melbourne and Sydney Spring Racing Carnivals’ prime contenders have kicked off their campaigns with heat wins in country and metro NSW this week.
On Monday at Wyong Darren Smith’s Group 1 winner Atomic Force claimed a good quarter-length barrier trial win over 800 metres with apprentice hoop Blake Spriggs in the mount.
The rising Danehill Dancer six-year-old hit the headlines in the autumn with their impressive three length victory in the Group 1 The Galaxy (1100m) at Randwick in April.
Next start they were beaten by Robert Heathcote’s smart Queensland galloper Buffering in the Group 2 Victory Stakes (1200m) in Brisbane before a devastatingly narrow defeat to Motspur in the Scone Quality Handicap (1100m) last start on May 13.
Newcastle-based Smith has named the 2011 Manikato Stakes, the $500,000 Group 1 sprint over 1200 metres to be run at Moonee Valley on September 30, as the major Melbourne Spring Carnival aim for Atomic Force.
Atomic Force will be trialled once more before racing first-up in the $100,000 Listed Starlight Stakes (1100m) at Rosehill on August 13, with connections currently searching for a new regular rider to replace the Hong Kong-bound Tim Clark.
Fellow Sydney horseman Peter Snowden has named the Manikato Stakes 2011 also as a possible spring target for his brilliant colt Sepoy.
“He’ll start off on the 14th and might have about five runs for the campaign,” Snowden said of Sepoy, winner of the Blue Diamond Stakes – Golden Slipper double last season.
“His main aim is the Coolmore (Stud Stakes) on (Victoria) Derby Day but he might go through the Manikato Stakes as well.”
Also on Monday, a number of stars from the stables of ace Sydney trainer Chris Waller enjoyed a promising start to the spring racing season at the Rosehill trials.
Mossman four-year-old Triple Elegance kicked things off with an easy one and quarter length win over stablemate Foreteller over 1030 meters.
This was followed by another heat quinella for Waller with Red Ransom gelding Snow Alert and 2010 TJ Smith winning colt Pressday finishing one-two in their 1030m hit-out yesterday morning.
It was the second time this preparation that the now Eliza Park Stud-owned Pressday was beaten by Snow Alert in a trial having earlier finished fourth behind their stablemate at Rosehill on July 8.
Waller also enjoyed trial wins with unraced More Than Ready colt Steel Fixer and the Ingham-owned Encosta De Lago two-year-old Resort Habit.
The pre-spring trials continued in Sydney on Tuesday morning at Randwick.
Gai Waterhouse with six and Anthony Cummings with four boasted the most number of heat winners.
Herculian Price was the most notable of Waterhouse’s conquerors, the upset winner of last year’s Group 1 The Metropolitan (2400m) at Randwick showing a possible return to form after the Yamanin Vital gelding failed to finish better than seventh in their subsequent five runs since their elite level success.
The other big name trial winner at Rosehill on Tuesday was the John O’Shea-trained Foxwedge.
The talented Fastnet Rock colt narrowly held on to defeat Fayez in the final stride of the 728 metre two-year-old colts and geldings trial, Foxwedge taking the first steps towards the 2011 Golden Rose this Sydney Spring Racing Carnival.