December Draws Rails in 2011 Naturalism Stakes Field

Early 2011 Caulfield Cup betting favourite December Draw has come up trumps with the inside alley for this Saturday’s $125,000 Group 3 Naturalism Stakes (2000m), the Mark Kavanagh-trained import looking to secure the Cup ballot exemption on offer to the winner.

December Draw

Caulfield Cup hope December Draw heads the 2011 Naturalism Stakes field

Medecis five-year-old December Draw headlines an impressive 2011 Naturalism Stakes final field of 16 starters plus two emergencies, the gelding to have just their fifth start on Aussie turf and their first at Caulfield.

From four starts since joining Kavanagh’s stables, December Draw has won three from three at Flemington and was only defeated a quarter length when second at Moonee Valley last month.

Sure to start near odds-on territory in the Luxbet markets for Saturday, December Draw is yet to pass the first elimination clause for the $2.5 million Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) on October 15.

Kavanagh is hopeful they can continue their excellent form with a win on the weekend, making them exempt from Caulfield Cup ballot and subsequently moving them into contention for the other Cup, the $6.2 million Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington on the first Tuesday of November.

Despite their predicament being so far down the ballot, December Draw is already installed as the $7.50 favourite in the futures Caulfield Cup 2011 odds at Luxbet, the sole nominee at a single-figure price to win.

They are also well-liked in the 2011 Melbourne Cup betting at a price of $13, second only to the Danny O’Brien-trained Shamrocker ($11).

While Shamrocker will continue her Cup campaign by racing in the $350,000 Group 1 Underwood Stakes (1800m) at Caulfield this Saturday, December Draw will run in the Naturalism with Michael Rodd in the mount.

“I’m very pleased with how he’s raced this time back and how he’s gone on since, but the trick for Saturday’s race is to have him well enough to win and still leave some improvement left for the Caulfield Cup,” Kavanagh said earlier this week.

There are many other strong contenders out to stake their Caulfield Cup claims in the Naturalism Stakes this weekend.

Leading Sydney trainer Gai Waterhouse has two lining up in reigning The Metropolitan winner Herculian Prince and her former AJC Oaks winner Once Were Wild, the stablemates drawn wide in barriers 15 and 16 respectively.

Both are being sent down the Cups path and are $61 outsiders in Caulfield Cup betting at Luxbet.

Meanwhile last year’s Caulfield Cup runner-up Harris Tweed is the 58kg topweight of the Naturalism Stakes field, the Kiwi galloper looking to bounce back after their disappointing run beating home just one other runner in the Group 2 Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m) at Flemington a fortnight ago.

Adding even more interest in this year’s Naturalism Stakes is the inclusion of Black And Bent, Robert Smerdon giving the champion hurdler their first flat race since July.

The in-form Black Hawk six-year-old is coming off a five race winning streak, which included a stunning 12 length victory in the Grand National Hurdle (3900m) and an equally impressive eight length win in the J.J. Houlahan Hurdle (3400m) at Sandown Lakeside last month, but Smerdon knows back to the flats over 2000 metres won’t work in their favour on Saturday.

“It’s not a race he could win on Saturday,” Smerdon admitted.

“It is going to be a hot race but it keeps him ticking over towards a longer race for him next time which will be more significant for him going forward.”

All the 2011 D’Urban Naturalism Stakes acceptors, barriers and jockeys are listed below.

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2011 Naturalism Stakes Final Field & Barrier Draw

# Form (Last 10) Horse Trainer Jockey Br. Wgt. Hcp. Rtg.
1 X98125X8X0 HARRIS TWEED (NZ) Murray Baker Brad Rawiller 13 58kg 110
2 5190X707X0 HERCULIAN PRINCE (NZ) Gai Waterhouse Ben Melham 15 56.5kg 106
3 1X23245X06 AT FIRST SIGHT (IRE) Robert Hickmott Steven King 12 56kg 105
4 30X40919X8 ONCE WERE WILD Gai Waterhouse Damien Oliver 16 55.5kg 109
5 4211255X00 DREAM PEDLAR Troy Blacker Craig Newitt 5 54.5kg 101
6 2X70067170 LIGHT VISION (NZ) Robert Smerdon Chris Symons 9 54.5kg 101
7 21X40121X0 NIWOT Michael, Wayne & John Hawkes Dean Yendall 11 54.5kg 101
8 12X6611111 BLACK AND BENT Robert Smerdon Glen Boss 17 54kg 100
9 5698X11X21 DECEMBER DRAW (IRE) Mark Kavanagh Michael Rodd 1 54kg 100
10 82281947X7 MY BENTLEY (NZ) Michael Kent James McDonald (a) 18 53.5kg 99
11 2362X78X00 EXCEPTIONALLY (NZ) Terry & Karina O’Sullivan Danny Nikolic 7 53kg 99
12 52X53230X9 ABOVE AVERAGE (IRE) Anthony Freedman Ms Lisa Cropp 8 53kg 98
13 31111X5X37 LUCKY EIGHTY EIGHT Mathew Ellerton & Simon Zahra 4 53kg 96
14 3332190X80 GUEST WING Shane A Edwards Michael Walker 6 53kg 93
15 505X90X097 ZAGREB David Hayes James Winks 14 53kg 93
16 42103132X5 I’M JAKE (NZ) David Brideoake Dwayne Dunn 2 53kg 90
17e 706X66212X MONTAHLIA (NZ) Michael Kent Ibrahim Gundogdu (a) 10 53kg 90
18e 032322X004 ANUDJAWUN (NZ) Shaun Dwyer 3 53kg 89