Only two mares have been accepted as part of the 16-horse final field for the race named in honour of arguably Australia’s greatest ever female racehorse, the 2011 Makybe Diva Stakes, with early Caulfield and Melbourne Cup favourite Lights Of Heaven and former AJC Oaks winner Once Were Wild to face off at Flemington.
Punters at Luxbet have a star-studded field to bet on in this year’s $300,000 Group 2 Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m), Peter Moody’s impressive Zabeel mare Lights Of Heaven the early favourite to take out the weight-for-age feature at her first look at the Flemington track.
The winner of her opening four career starts last season including the Group 1 Schweppes Oaks (2008m) at Morphettville, four-year-old Lights Of Heaven resumed ahead of an ambitious spring campaign with a luckless second behind 2011 Cox Plate favourite Whobegotyou in the Group 2 P.B. Lawrence Stakes (1400m).
Lights Of Heaven has drawn barrier seven of 16 for Saturday’s Makybe Diva Stakes and is due to be ridden by Moody’s ace jockey Luke Nolen.
The mare sits at the top of the odds for the $2.5 million Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) on October 15 paying $7 through Luxbet, and is also the top fancy for the richest race held in Australia each year, the $6 million Group 1 Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington on Tuesday November 1.
Despite being the only Caulfield Cup hopeful at single figure odds, her favouritism secured when given just 51.5kg with the release of weights yesterday, Moody is yet to confirm whether he will give Lights Of Heaven, or promising stablemate King’s Rose who won the Group 2 Memsie Stakes (1400m) last Saturday, the chance to become the first female Caulfield Cup winner since the mighty Kiwi Ethereal in 2001.
“Lights Of Heaven and King’s Rose still have to convince me they will run out a strong 2400 metres,” Moody said, hinting that the 2040 metres of the $3 million Group 1 Cox Plate at Moonee Valley on October 22 could be the more suitable spring option.
Along with Lights Of Heaven, the other mare in the Makybe Diva Stakes field is the Gai Waterhouse-trained Once Were Wild, the Johannesburg five-year-old racing for the first time since finishing ninth to Chris Waller’s Stand To Gain in the Sydney Cup on April 23.
History is against Lights Of Heaven and Once Were Wild on Saturday, the last mare to salute in the Makybe Diva Stakes being Saleous back in 1996.
Other headline entries in the highly-spruiked Makybe Diva Stakes 2011 include Murray Baker’s proven Group stayer Harris Tweed, Michael Moroney’s top import Glass Harmonium, boom Perth galloper Playing God and former The BMW hero Littorio.
Littorio was originally nominated for both the Makybe Diva as well as the feature race in Sydney this Saturday, the $175,000 Group 2 Chelmsford Stakes (1600m).
Trainer Nigel Blackiston, however, opted for the Makybe Diva Stakes in Melbourne with Littorio suffering an early blow with the extreme outside gate (16).
It has been over a year since Littorio raced, the Bellotto gelding having been sidelined due to a suspensory injury after their last-start ninth to Jessicabeel in the 2010 Sydney Cup.
Meanwhile Maluckyday is a dual acceptor in both the Makybe Diva and the Chelmsford, the Hawkes-trained stayer resuming for the season ahead of a second stint at the Melbourne Cup after their second behind Americain in the race last spring.
The first race of the new season offering a ballot exemption for the 2011 Caulfield Cup, the Makybe Diva Stakes is shaping up as a must-bet-on feature.
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2011 Makybe Diva Stakes Final Field & Barrier Draw
|#||Form (Last 10)||Horse||Trainer||Jockey||Br.||Wgt.||Hcp. Rtg.|
|1||X58X08580X||MASTER O’REILLY (NZ)||Judy Mawer||Matthew Allen||12||59kg||104|
|2||X0X545719X||LITTORIO||Nigel Blackiston||Craig Williams||16||59kg||110|
|3||3X98125X8X||HARRIS TWEED (NZ)||Murray Baker||Brad Rawiller||11||59kg||110|
|4||31112X447X||MALUCKYDAY (NZ)||Michael, Wayne & John Hawkes||Glen Boss||4||59kg||108|
|5||X152220X00||MIDAS TOUCH (GB)||Robert Hickmott||Nicholas Hall||5||59kg||111|
|6||111X0X0X00||ALANDI (IRE)||Robert Hickmott||Eddie Cassar||10||59kg||111|
|7||51X23245X0||AT FIRST SIGHT (IRE)||Robert Hickmott||Steven King||14||59kg||105|
|8||6X60X2312X||GLASS HARMONIUM (IRE)||Michael Moroney||Ms Lisa Cropp||6||59kg||108|
|9||13332190X8||GUEST WING||Shane A Edwards||Luke Currie||15||59kg||93|
|10||X82281947X||MY BENTLEY (NZ)||Michael Kent||James McDonald (a)||1||59kg||97|
|11||0222X3211X||ERUPTIOUS (NZ)||Michael Kent||–||13||59kg||88|
|12||2X2X3X3139||PRINCE OBAMA||Jason Clifford||Dean Yendall||3||59kg||89|
|13||314X06X12X||DON CARLOS (GER)||Michael Moroney||Kerrin McEvoy||8||59kg||82|
|14||11X13322X2||PLAYING GOD||Neville Parnham||Steven Parnham||9||58.5kg||110|
|15||830X40919X||ONCE WERE WILD||Gai Waterhouse||Damien Oliver||2||57kg||109|
|16||1111X2||LIGHTS OF HEAVEN (NZ)||Peter G Moody||Luke Nolen||7||56.5kg||105|