Saturday’s Challenge Stakes 2012 is shaping up as a supercharged sprint showdown between some of the best in the business, most notable the reigning champion Hay List.
There were a total of 12 horses nominated for this year’s edition of the $175,000 Group 2 Challenge Stakes (1100m), last Friday night’s beaten William Reid Stakes favourite Hay List headlining the entries.
Winner of the Challenge Stakes 12 months ago the John McNair-trained Hay List recently made the history books when carting a hefty 58.5kg to victory in the Newmarket Handicap two runs off an injury enforced nine month spell.
Then on Friday night Hay List failed in their bid to take out the Newmarket – William Reid Stakes double when beaten three quarters of a length by John O’Shea’s smart three-year-old Foxwedge.
The six-year-old could be given the chance to shoot for a consolation prize, however, in this weekend’s Challenge Stakes.
The 2012 Challenge Stakes is also set to include ace sprinters Rain Affair and Bel Sprinter, both nominated for the Rosehill Guineas Day feature.
Classy Commands four-year-old Rain Affair, one of two nominees for trainer Joseph Pride along with Group 2 winning five-year-old Neeson, suffered just their second loss from a stunning 12 start career to date when sixth in the Newmarket.
Prior to that they had won back-to-back Group 2 features at Rosehill by a cumulative six and a half lengths, and Pride is hoping getting them back at the track will do the trick on Saturday.
The other big name entry is then Jason Warren’s crack Bel Esprit four-year-old Bel Sprinter.
Until last start Bel Sprinter had won five and placed second on the other of their six starts, including a first-up win in the Listed WJ Adams Stakes (1000m) at Caulfield.
On February 25, however, they came up against a top field to finish sixth albeit beaten only one and a half lengths by the winner Woorim in the Group 1 Oakleigh Plate (1100m).
After a freshen-up their Mornington-based trainer Warren is hoping Bel Sprinter can reclaim their form when they make their Sydney debut on Saturday.
Other hopefuls among the Challenge Stakes 2012 nominations worth a mention include narrow Oakleigh Plate runner-up Elite Falls, Clarry Conner’s Flying Spur filly Satin Shoes and the David Payne-trained Winter King.
All the Rosehill race fields for Saturday including the Challenge Stakes acceptances will be taken on Wednesday and published right here at Races.com.au.
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2012 Challenge Stakes Nominations
Rosehill Gardens – 31/03/212
|1||BEL SPRINTER||Jason Warren|
|2||CARDINAL VIRTUE||David Payne|
|3||CURTANA||Peter G Moody|
|4||ELITE FALLS||John O’Shea|
|5||HAY LIST||John McNair|
|6||MASTER OF DESIGN||David Payne|
|7||MY COOKIE MONSTER||Grant Allard|
|9||RAIN AFFAIR||Joseph Pride|
|10||SATIN SHOES||Clarry Conners|
|11||VARENNA MISS||Tony Noonan|
|12||WINTER KING (NZ)||David Payne|