John O’Shea’s talented Fastnet Rock colt Foxwedge has earned the chance to take on the best three-year-old in Australia during the upcoming Melbourne Cup Carnival as they prepare for a clash with Sepoy in the 2011 Coolmore Stud Stakes after winning in Sydney over the weekend.
Set to run as one of the four elite level showdowns on Victoria Derby Day, which kicks off the 2011 Melbourne Cup Carnival at Flemington on Saturday October 29, the $500,000 Group 1 Coolmore Stud Stakes (1200m) has been named as the grand final spring aim for both Peter Snowden’s superstar three-year-old Sepoy and last Saturday’s Roman Consul Stakes winner Foxwedge.
Champion colt Sepoy will be the raging odds-on favourite in the Coolmore Stud Stakes betting markets when they open at Luxbet after they annihilated a classy field of rivals in their first weight-for-age and open-age test last Friday night winning the $500,000 Group 1 Manikato Stakes (1200m) at Moonee Valley.
Putting an easy two and a half lengths over Sister Madly, Gai Waterhouse’s resuming mare More Joyous a further one and three quarter lengths away third in the sprint feature, Sepoy became the first three-year-old Manikato Stakes winner since 1999.
With talk building over Sepoy possibly taking on undefeated turf queen Black Caviar in the $1 million Group 1 Patinack Farm Classic (1200m) on Emirates Stakes Day in November, connections at this stage are focused on the Coolmore Stud Stakes against his own age.
“The reason I’ve always said the Coolmore is the target is because it’s his own age, three-year-olds, and hopefully the boss (owner Sheikh Mohammed) is here on Derby Day,” Snowden said on Friday night.
“That’s when the Coolmore is on and that would be the icing on the cake if we could win a Group 1 on the day that he’s there.
“For me, that’s better than beating Black Caviar.”
Sepoy could, however, get the chance to do both as last year’s Coolmore Stud Stakes winner Star Witness backed up the following Saturday to run a game second behind Black Caviar in the Patinack Farm Classic last spring.
While Sepoy dominates Coolmore Stud Stakes calculations, another smart three-year-old on way to the classic is Foxwedge.
Last Saturday at Randwick’s Epsom Handicap Day, Foxwedge ($1.85F) became a four-time winner and dual stakes winner with a gritty final stride victory over a gallant Masthead ($4.40) in the Group 2 Roman Consul Stakes (1200m) with the Bart Cummings-trained Do You Think ($11) a further half-length away third.
O’Shea has said it is onwards and upwards to the Coomore Stud Stakes with Foxwedge, which will be the colt’s third Group 1 assignment following the Golden Slipper where they ran seventh to Sepoy as a two-year-old, and more recently the Golden Rose where they crossed four lengths away fourth behind upset winner Manawanui.
While Foxwedge was well and truly found out be Sepoy in the Golden Slipper last season, O’Shea said he won’t shy away from another shot at the megastar.
“He (Sepoy) was just awesome at the Valley,” O’Shea admitted.
“I’m under no illusion about the enormity of what our bloke is facing.
“I think he (Foxwedge) will be a better chaser and he will have a big chestnut horse to chase at Flemington because (Sepoy) is going to be out in front of us.”
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