The latest Sydney Summer Racing feature, the 2011 Festival Stakes, is scheduled to run at Rosehill Gardens this Saturday with the final field of acceptances released this morning.
Scheduled to run as Rosehill Race 6 at 4:35pm (local time), the $100,000 Listed Festival Stakes (1500m) has drawn a final field of 16 gallopers with the Gai Waterhouse-trained King Lionheart to wear the No. 1 saddlecloth.
The 58kg topweight of the Festival Stakes 2011, Al Maher five-year-old King Lionheart races for the first time since their Epsom Handicap failure.
After back-to-back wins at Rosehill in September including the Group 2 Shannon Stakes over the Festival Stakes track and distance, King Lionheart was given their first elite level assignment in the Group 1 Epsom Handicap (1600m) at Randwick on October 1.
They failed to impress, however, when beating home just two runners finishing nearly 13 lengths away 15th to winner Secret Admirer.
Drawn to perfection in gate four of 16 for Saturday and stepping back down in class, King Lionheart is expected to be far more competitive in the Festival Stakes and has the full support of their rider Nash Rawiller who replaces Tommy Berry.
“Last preparation he put his hand up and showed himself as a good miler and I think he has really found what he is good at,” Rawiller said.
“We have probably worked out that he does better racing fresh over a mile.
“I can’t fault the way he has freshened up and built back up again (since the Epsom).
“I think he exceeded everyone’s expectations in the stale last time but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him go on with it even further this time.”
Waterhouse will also be represented in the Festival Stakes field this year by her last-start, first-up Warwick Farm winner Kontiki Park.
The Thorn Park six-year-old, however, didn’t fare as well in the Festival Stakes barrier draw as their stablemate and will jump from barrier 14 with Berry aboard on the 53kg minimum.
Along with King Lionheart there are five Festival Stakes runners above the minimum weight.
Ron Quinton’s Catbird gelding Monton is due to get the inside running form barrier one and is allocated 55.5kg.
They are followed by the three Chris Waller-trained stablemates Altered Boy (54.5kg), Tromso (54.5kg) and Alexander Of Hales, the trio all suffering awkward barrier draws with 10, 15 and 16 respectively.
Finally there is the Hawkes-trained Flying Spur eight-year-old Mentality on 54kg also, another widely-drawn hopeful set to start from gate 13.
Other notable acceptors that drew more favourably include the Tim Martin-trained Fibrillation (barrier seven) coming off a close third to Kontiki Park, 2010 Queensland Oaks winner Miss Keepsake (barrier three), progressive four-year-old Circle Of Power (barrier five) and last-start Rosehill winner Lightinthenite (barrier nine).
Many runners in the Festival Stakes field are using the race as a lead-up to the $175,000 Group 2 Villiers Stakes (1600m) at Warwick Farm on December 17.
One runner vying for the Festival Stakes – Villiers Stakes 2011 double is the Mathew Dale-trained Lebrechaun, the Iglesia six-year-old last seen running third to fellow Festival rival Viva Las in the Snake Gully Cup (1400m) on November 11.
“We took him to an unsuitable track first-up in the Snake Gull Cup (at Gundagai) but it was a suitable timeframe leading into this race with three weeks between runs and stepping up to 1500 metres,” Canberra-based Dale said.
“He’ll be better suited on the bigger (Rosehill) track on Saturday, his second-up record is very good (4-3-0-1) and we’re looking like getting a bit of sting out of the track which would suit him.”
See below for the full 2011 Blackwoods 3M Festival Stakes field, barriers, jockeys and weights.
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2011 Festival Stakes Final Field & Barrier Draw
Rosehill Race 6 – 03/12/2011
|#||Form (Last 10)||Horse||Trainer||Jockey||Br.||Wgt.||Hcp. Rating|
|1||22210X110X||KING LIONHEART||Gai Waterhouse||Nash Rawiller||4||58kg||100|
|2||X18860X395||MONTON||Ron Quinton||Chris O’Brien||1||55.5kg||95|
|3||6424880X48||ALTERED BOY||Chris Waller||–||10||54.5kg||93|
|5||823484422X||ALEXANDER OF HALES (USA)||Chris Waller||–||16||54kg||92|
|6||2X8208X570||MENTALITY||Michael, Wayne & John Hawkes||Jay Ford||13||54kg||92|
|7||X3522419X3||FIBRILLATION||Tim Martin||Blake Spriggs (a)||7||53kg||92|
|8||6006X34325||MISS KEEPSAKE (NZ)||Joseph Pride||Nathan Berry||3||53kg||92|
|9||5X413600X3||LEBRECHAUN||Matthew Dale||Peter Robl||11||53kg||90|
|10||36X82220X1||KONTIKI PARK (NZ)||Gai Waterhouse||Tommy Berry||14||53kg||88|
|11||2054114X52||CIRCLE OF POWER||Rod Craig||Christian Reith||5||53kg||85|
|12||016120X542||KIMBERLEY KID||David Payne||–||8||53kg||85|
|13||X1242X5X44||WITHOUT COMPROMISE||Kevin Moses||Shaun Guymer (a)||6||53kg||84|
|14||5X779X6461||VIVA LAS||Neville & Christopher Voigt||–||2||53kg||82|
|15||11X1631||LIGHTINTHENITE||John O’Shea||Josh Adams (a)||9||53kg||80|
|16||3X11130X00||CHATEAU FORT||Paul Messara||Jeff Penza||12||53kg||79|