Peter Snowden’s spruik colt Sepoy is preparing for a shot at his fourth Group 1 title, this time taking on a field of fellow three-year-olds in the Coolmore Stud Stakes 2011 at Flemington on Saturday, and while he is hands-down the horse to beat in the Victoria Derby Day feature, one unknown runner that will take on the superstar is Hong Kong raider Bear Hero.
On Monday Racing Victoria took nominations for the nine Group races making up 2011 Victoria Derby Day, with 12 three-year-olds entered for the $500,000 Group 1 Coolmore Stud Stakes (1200m).
As a winner of nine of their 10 starts to date, including the unique Blue Diamond Stakes – Golden Slipper double as a juvenile as well as a third elite level in the Manikato Stakes at the Valley last month, Sepoy is flying and it will take only an accident or miracle to stop him in the Coolmore.
One person praying for the later is Hong Kong horseman David Ferraris who has entered his promising, Australian-bred General Nediym colt Bear Hero for the Coolmore Stud Stakes, which will be the Champion Griffin of Hong Kong’s first run in Australia.
With 10 starts to their name already, Sepoy looks like a veteran on paper compared to the lightly-raced Bear Hero who has had just four career runs to date.
They have showed plenty of promise in their quartet of starts, however, Bear Hero winning their opening three on the trot as a two-year-old before their last-start second to King Mossman in a 1200m handicap at Sha Tin last-start on September 11.
Despite having to face off against a true champion in Sepoy, recently elevated to 15th on the World Thoroughbred Rankings, Ferraris is hopeful Bear Hero will show progression and be a competitive force on Saturday.
“It is a huge step up in class,” Chris McMullen, the stable’s traveling foreman, said.
“He hasn’t been racing any Sepoys in Hong Kong.
“However, he has been running outstanding times and all the horses he has beaten have gone on to win races.
“It is hard to get a line on the form between here and Hong Kong, but (Bear Hero) has ran good times and that’s why we come down.”
Bear Hero’s fastest 1000m run was a blistering 55.05 seconds on June 11 when they defeated a tough field of older rivals at Sha Tin.
Sepoy has had just two starts over that distance, the first two of his career, the fastest of which was done in 57.65 seconds when he won the Listed Blue Diamond Preview at Caulfield in a big three and a half length success over Grand Britannia back in January.
Over the Coolmore Stud Stakes distance, however, Sepoy definitely holds the advantage.
Bear Hero’s sole start over 1200 metres was their last-start second when they finished in a smart 1:10.11.
Sepoy, on the other hand, has five runs over the distance for four wins, the fastest of which was his blistering 1:08.55 second win in the Group 1 Blue Diamond Stakes at Caulfield on February 26.
Australia’s Brett Prebble, who is based in Hong Kong, has been booked for the Coolmore Stud Stakes start on Bear Hero while Kerrin McEvoy will continue his association on Sepoy on Saturday.
Getting accustomed to the Aussie turf, Bear Hero enjoyed a strong gallop at Werribee this week running the final 400 metres of his work in 22.9 seconds.
“We wanted to go 23, he went 22.9 and seemed to do the work well within himself,” McMullen said.
“We’re happy with him, but it’s very hard to be confident with Sepoy in the race.
“He’s just gone into the top-50 horses in the world and his form is excellent.
“A horse the class of Sepoy will always be very hard to beat.”
Other notable rivals nominated to take on Sepoy in the Coolmore include the John O’Shea-trained Foxwedge, Gerald Ryan’s consistent stakes winning colt Hot Snitzel and the well-trialed Masthead.
The Coolmore Stud Stakes final field and barriers are due for release on Wednesday and will be published right here at Races.com.au followed by our exclusive betting preview and tips.
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