Westend Smashes into Thousand Guineas 2011 Entries

Racing Victoria today closed the late entries for the signature four features of the Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival running at Caulfield and Moonee Valley with Robbie Griffith’s progressive filly Westend Smash the sole addition to the list of 2011 Thousand Guineas nominees.

One of the classic spring showdowns, the $500,000 Group 1 Thousand Guineas (1600m) is scheduled to run at Caulfield Racecourse on Wednesday October 12 and there are now 224 three-year-old fillies vying for a spot in the capacity 16-starter plus four emergency final field.

Griffiths made the belated decision to set Westend Smash on the Thousand Guineas trail after the daughter of Gonski from Dolphin Street mare Westend Hit won a barrier trial at Cranbourne on Monday.

To date Westend Smash has had two race starts for two close second place finishes.

She debuted at Geelong in March, defeated in the final stride when coming within a nose of Rampling in a 2YO Maiden over 1100 metres.

She backed up a fortnight later, again coming close to tasting victory when beaten just a half-length this time by Star Salute in the Routley’s Handicap (1200m) at Sandown.

Yesterday in her 800 metre Cranbourne heat Westend Smash showed nice progression posting a quarter-length victory, hinting to Griffiths that there could be better things to come from her this prep.

Thousand Guineas betting markets are currently lead by the John Thompson-trained Pane In The Glass ($10) while other top fancies include Gai Waterhouse’s Group 3 winner Shared Reflections ($11) and Golden Slipper third placegetter Elite Falls ($11).

One filly further down the Thousand Guineas odds that is getting ready to return to the track is $26 chance Houston Benefactor.

Anthony Cummings’ well-bred daughter of Encosta De Lago has to date raced five times for three minor placings, but is yet to break her maiden status.

A promising first preparation from the then two-year-old who is raced by the Tulla Breeding Syndicate culminated with Houston Benefactor running an eye-catching fifth to the Peter Snowden-trained Helmet in the Group 1 Champagne Stakes (1600m) at Randwick on April 23.

Cummings is preparing to saddle Houston Benefactor up for her first race as a three-year-old at Canterbury on Wednesday in the $27,000 TJ’S Champagne Bar Plate (1100m), the Sydney horseman believing she is a top chance.

“She trialled well last week and looks to have come back in good order,” Cummings said.

“Her work is up to the right standard, she looks pretty well placed in a maiden such as she’s in tomorrow and if we get what we expect out of that she’ll go onto the Princess Series.

“She was pretty unlucky not to have broken her maiden status a couple of times last preparation and she’s already stakes-placed (when third to Streama in the Listed Keith Mackay Stakes at Randwick in April), so plainly she’s got the talent to at least handle a maiden,” Cummings said.

Drawn in barrier six and due to be ridden by Glyn Schofield, resuming from a suspension, Houston Benefactor is the best-tried of the acceptors in Canterbury Race 3 tomorrow and is likely to open the favourite when Luxbet open their markets.

Following tomorrow’s run, Houston Benefactor will set upon the four-race Princess Series for her type during the Sydney Spring Racing Carnival, which kicks off with the $125,000 Group 3 Silver Shadow Stakes (1200m) at Warwick Farm on August 20.

The second leg of the Princess Series is the $175,000 Group 2 Furious Stakes (1400m) at Randwick on September 3 followed by the $175,000 Group 2 Tea Rose Stakes (1500m) a fortnight later, and finally the $400,000 Group 1 Flight Stakes (1600m) sees the sequence come to a close on Epsom Handicap Day, October 1, 2011.

The plan is then to send Houston Benefactor interstate for the Thousand Guineas a week and a half after the Flight Stakes.

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2011 Schweppes Thousand Guineas Nominations