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One of the key races on the Sydney Summer Racing program, the Festival Stakes 2011 is set to take place at Rosehill Gardens this Saturday with 19 gallopers nominated for the middle-distance sprint.
Leading Sydney trainer Chris Waller has a strong hand in this year’s $100,000 Listed Festival Stakes (1500m) having nominated a trio from his stables.
Waller has entered imported Danehill eight-year-old Alexander Of Hales, six-year-old gelding Altered Boy and Lonhro five-year-old Tromso for the feature.
Altered Boy and Tromso have both recorded previous wins at the track and distance, Altered Boy back in July of 2010 and Tromso in November last year, and both are on way to the $175,000 Group 2 Villiers Stakes (1600m) at Warwick Farm on December 17.
“They’ve just got to run in a race like the Festival and whoever runs well there can go on to the Villiers,” Waller said of the pair.
Meanwhile, veteran galloper Alexander Of Hales is set to resume racing after an eight and a half month spell.
Prior to hitting the paddock Alexander Of Hales was enjoying a purple patch of form over the summer in Sydney and they were last seen running second to Saint Encosta in the Group 3 Randwick City Stakes (2120m) at Warwick Farm on March 12.
“He had a really long spell,” Waller said.
“He has trialled very well and he’ll run a cheeky race.”
Waller named the $100,000 Listed Tattersalls Club Cup (2100m) at Warwick Farm on January 2 and the $125,000 Listed Gosford Gold Cup (2100m) 10 days later as possible New Year targets for Alexander Of Hales.
Gai Waterhouse is also with multiple Festival Stakes nominations in 2011.
The highest-rated of all the Festival Stakes hopefuls is her five-year-old Al Maher gelding King Lionheart.
Last seen finishing a very disappointing 15th, beaten 12 and a half lengths by winner Secret Admirer in the Group 1 Epsom Handicap (1600m) at Randwick on October 1, King Lionheart will look to bounce back on Saturday.
Prior to their Epsom failure King Lionheart won back-to-back Rosehill races including the Group 2 Shannon Stakes (1500m) which was their first black-type assignment.
Waterhouse’s other entry is Thorn Park six-year-old Kontiki Park who won the Warwick Farm 100 Club Handicap (1400m) first-up at Warwick Farm on November 19, a race where they defeated Waller’s duo of Tromso (sixth) and Altered Boy (eighth).
Other notable early entries for Saturday include the Tim Martin-trained mare Fibrillation coming off a third to Kontiki Park, the Kerry Parker’s Group 2 winner Brilliant Light, Catbird five-year-old Monton and Joe Pride’s consistent mare Miss Keepsake.
Last year’s Festival Stakes was won by subsequent Myer Classic placegetter Dysphonia, Peter Snowden without an entry for this year.
Following this Saturday’s Festival Stakes, the off-season Rosehill racing action continues on December 10 with the $100,000 Listed Christmas Cup (2400m).
Races.com.au will provide readers with all the black-type race fields, previews and betting updates throughout the summer so stay tuned.
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Festival Stakes 2011 Nominations
|1||ALEXANDER OF HALES (USA)||Chris Waller||92|
|2||ALTERED BOY||Chris Waller||93|
|3||BRILLIANT LIGHT||Kerry Parker||96|
|4||CHATEAU FORT||Paul Messara||79|
|5||CIRCLE OF POWER||Rod Craig||85|
|7||KIMBERLEY KID||David Payne||85|
|8||KING LIONHEART||Gai Waterhouse||100|
|9||KONTIKI PARK (NZ)||Gai Waterhouse||88|
|12||MENTALITY||Michael, Wayne & John Hawkes||92|
|13||MISS KEEPSAKE (NZ)||Joseph Pride||92|
|17||VIVA LAS||Neville & Christopher Voigt||82|
|18||WINNING GLORY (NZ)||David Payne||81|
|19||WITHOUT COMPROMISE||Kevin Moses||84|
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