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The 2012 Kensington Stakes is the only black-type feature running in Australia this weekend, the event due to take place as Flemington Race 6 on Saturday with a final field of 11 sprinters engaged.
Topweight of the field with the No. 1 saddlecloth is defending champ Grand Duels who returns seeking back-to-back wins in the $125,000 Listed Kensington Stakes (1000m).
The Byron Cozamanis-trained evergreen eight-year-old is drawn in barrier nine, two gates wider than what they jumped from last year, and will be ridden by Billy Eagan for the first time.
Grand Duels was last seen finishing a close third behind Just Sybil in a 1000 metres Morphettville sprint on Boxing Day, but they will have to improve here if they are to get the better of a class field.
Cozamanis will also be represented in the Kensington Stakes field this year by fellow eight-year-old veteran The Soldier who has drawn double-digits with barrier 10.
The Soldier rises in class for this assignment, but have been in strong form this time in winning a 1000m Flemington handicap by three lengths back on December 17 before finishing fourth to General Truce at Moonee Valley over 955m on New Year’s Eve.
General Truce has also been accepted for the Kensington Stakes 2012, Ricky Maund’s progressive four-year-old a genuine chance having raced in Group company many times over their 25-start career to date.
Ace hoop Luke Nolen is booked for the ride, General Truce also coming up trumps with barrier three as they seek successive Melbourne wins for the season.
One of the other top chances in the race is Anthony Freedman’s six-year-old Commands gelding First Command.
The Group 2 winning galloper resumed from a three month spell with an eye-catching first-up third, beaten only a quarter of a length, to Chasm in the Listed Doveton Stakes (1200m) at Caulfield on January 7.
For that run First Command was blessed with the inside barrier, but they have lots of work to do second-up after drawing the extreme outside gate 11 of 11 for the Kensington Stakes on Saturday.
Horses that fared better in the barriers include Darwin visitor Canali (barrier six) who caught the eye winning the Victoria Cup (1000m) at Caulfield on December 3 before their brave last-start fourth to Catapulted in the Group 3 Standish Handicap (1200m) at Flemington, the Mark Kavanagh-trained Snitzel four-year-old Weekend Special (barrier seven) coming off a close second to General Truce, and David Balfour’s smart mare Obsidian Dragon vying for her fourth straight turf triumph.
Another galloper to watch is the resuming Decircles, Danny O’Brien’s lightly-raced Encosta De Lago colt well-weighted under the set weights plus penalties conditions with just 52.5kg.
See below for the full 2012 Kensington Stakes final field and barrier draw.
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2012 Kensington Stakes Field & Barriers
Flemington Race 6 – 21/01/2012
|#||Form (Last 10)||Horse||Trainer||Jockey||Barrier||Weight||Hcp. Rating|
|1||40X7307083||GRAND DUELS||Byron Cozamanis||Billy Egan||9||59kg||101|
|2||4120X527X3||FIRST COMMAND||Anthony Freedman||Steven Arnold||11||58kg||105|
|3||11X23X2814||CANALI||Stephen Brown||Danny Nikolic||6||58kg||101|
|4||75X64209X7||GRAN SASSO||David Brideoake & David Feek||Noel Callow||4||56kg||95|
|5||214234X331||GENERAL TRUCE||Ricky Maund||Luke Nolen||3||56kg||93|
|6||01X121X214||THE SOLDIER||Byron Cozamanis||Michael Walker||10||56kg||93|
|7||24X3173111||OBSIDIAN DRAGON||David Balfour||Daniel Moor||5||56kg||100|
|8||2X1212X12||WEEKEND SPECIAL||Mark Kavanagh||Michael Rodd||7||56kg||85|
|9||74X3X1175X||ESPRIT DE BULLET (NZ)||Mick Price||Craig Newitt||1||56kg||82|
|10||8X1218X2||STAR OF GISELLE||Mathew Ellerton & Simon Zahra||Chris Symons||2||54kg||75|
|11||762X1X||DECIRCLES||Danny O’Brien||Dwayne Dunn||8||52.5kg||72|
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