A field of exciting gallopers are set to lay their spring claims on the line in the Starlight Stakes at Rosehill this Saturday including The Galaxy champion Atomic Force and fellow Group 1 winners Gold Trail and Pressday.
Darren Smith’s Danehill Dancer six-year-old Atomic Force headlines the early entries for the $100,000 Listed Starlight Stakes (1100m), starting for the first time since their narrow second to Motspur in the Scone Quality Handicap (1100m) on May 13.
After finally securing their breakthrough stakes victory in the Listed Maurice McCarten Stakes at Rosehill back in March, Atomic Force went on to become an elite level winner with their barnstorming three length victory over Thankgodyou’rehere in the Group 1 The Galaxy (1100m) on a bog Randwick track on April 16.
Smith is hoping that after a successful 900 metre barrier trial at Rosehill last week, Atomic Force can be competitive first-up and recapture their form from last season as they head towards the $500,000 Group 1 Manikato Stakes (1200m) at Moonee Valley on September 30.
Warwick Farm-based trainer Gary Portelli has similar hopes for his well-tried Hussonet seven-year-old Gold Trail.
The veteran hasn’t won a race since their elite level victory in the Group 1 Railway Stakes (1200m) in New Zealand back in January of 2010.
After running fifth in the 2010 The Galaxy to winner Shellscrape, Gold Trail travelled and raced on the global stage finishing an eye-catching fourth behind 2010 Krisflyer International Sprint champion Green Birdie in Singapore before being found out when 10th to Equiano in the Group 1 King’s Stand Stakes (1005m) at last year’s Royal Ascot.
A lengthy recovery period followed for Gold Trail upon returning home and they had their first race back on Aussie turf in May of this year when running fourth, beaten just half a length, to Gundy Son in the Listed Chief De Beers (1100m) at Doomben during the Brisbane Winter Racing Carnival.
Two fifth place finishes in July at Caulfield in stakes races were to follow, including their latest in the Group 3 Bletchingly Stakes (1200m).
“He got bogged down in the Bletchingly Stakes,” Portelli said.
“The fence was off and not one horse who race don the rail that day finished in the placings.
“He’s been beaten just under four lengths so you can’t be too hard on him.”
Portelli will use Gold Trail’s performance in the Starlight Stakes on Saturday as an indicator for the horse’s racing future.
“We are not writing him off yet,” Portelli said.
“There’s still a few boxes to be ticked before we start to panic about where he’s at.
“There are a couple of little question marks over him.
“But I’m hoping getting him back to the Sydney way of going helps him fire.”
Meanwhile Domesday four-year-old Pressday has also been nominated to make their new season return in the Starlight Stakes for Waller.
A four-time Group winner last year, including their victory in the Group 1 TJ Smith (1600m) at Eagle Farm, Pressday failed to perform in their three autumn runs with their best performance being a fifth to Ilovethiscity in the Group 1 Randwick Guineas (1600m).
Still, Waller is pressing on with Pressday and has nominated them for both the $2.5 million Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) and $3 million Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) during the Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival.
“He has matured a lot physically and mentally but he’s a hard horse to fire up on the training tracks which is what gives you an accurate guide on how he’s going,” Waller said.
“I just hope he turns up on Saturday.
“Saturday will tell us a lot. If he comes back he’s up to the Cox Plate but he’s got to come back.”
Originally Pressday was set to resume in last weekend’s Group 3 Missile Stakes (1200m) at Randwick, subsequently won by excitement machine Rain Affair, but Waller opted to hold off one week for the Starlight Stakes.
“I just didn’t think he was quite fit enough for a pressure race like the Missile and it could have blown him apart,” Waller explained.
“I just thought it was a better option at 1100 metres rather than a pressure 1200 metres at weight-for-age.”
Waller has also nominated Syreon for the Starlight Stakes showdown, ace jockey Glyn Schofield back from a riding ban to take the mount on the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes third placegetter.
“This (the Starlight) will be too short for him but he’s come back well,” Waller said of Group 3 Queen’s Cup winner Syreon.
The 2011 Starlight Stakes final field and barrier draw will be released on Wednesday and published here at Races.com.au.
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