Anzac Stakes Day is shaping up as a beauty at Melbourne’s Flemington Racecourse with an eight-race program headlined by the VRC St Leger 2012.
Due to jump as Flemington Race 6 at 3:55pm, the $150,000 Listed VRC St Leger (2800m) has this year attracted a final field of 16 three-year-old stayers.
Heading the VRC St Leger weights are two gallopers coming off very different form with the Michael Kent-trained Backbone and John McArdle’s Methuselah to carry 57.5kg.
Drawn favourably in barrier six with Brad Rawiller to ride Mossman gelding Backbone comes off a good one and three quarter length win over Rock Robster in the Listed Galilee Final (2400m) at Mornington on April 8 when carrying 59kg.
They will appreciate the drop back in weight on Wednesday and also look suited to step up to the 2800 metres.
Kent has also accepted for the lightly raced Toranos drawn in barrier five with Chris Symons to ride, the Elvstroem gelding coming off a good third over 2400-metres at Bendigo.
Methuselah meanwhile will jump from barrier 12 as they look to improve on their last-start seventh in the Listed Adelaide Guineas (1800m) at Morphettville.
Going back up in distance on Wednesday should see Methuselah race more competitively however as they put an easy three lengths on their rivals in the Listed Tasmanian Derby over 2200-metres back in February.
Along with Backbone the other last start winner in this year’s VRC St Leger field is Baby Boy, Ron Daniel’s Barley A Moment gelding winning over 2050-metres last week at Morphettville.
Local Flemington trainer Nigel Blackiston will shoot for successive VRC St Leger wins following the success of Right Of Refusal 12 months ago when they saddle up bargain buy Duel Lover in barrier 10 on Wednesday.
To be ridden by last year’s winning hoop Michael Walker, Duelled gelding Duel Lover was purchased for just NZ$2000 at a breeze up sale, and was last seen running seventh over 2400m at Sandown.
Blackiston, however, believes they have improvement in them and is looking forward to Wednesday.
“He’s possibly not as good as Right Of Refusal, but the field’s not as strong this year,” he said.
“From day one the St Leger was always our main goal for him.
“He’s not a big, robust horse, he’s quite a lightly-framed horse and his run the other day at Sandown was pretty good.
“He got lost coming down the hill but once he got balanced at the bottom of the hill he finished it off nicely.
“He’s got all the right attributes to be a nice stayer eventually.
“He’s lightly-framed but if he can grow and furnish over the next 12 months he could be anything.”
Cranbourne trainer Eric Musgrove meanwhile will be dually represented in the field with Compelled in barrier four and Preside to get the inside running from barrier one, both three-year-olds coming off two second place finishes.
Other notable hopefuls include the John Sadler-trained Starcraft colt Starkiato (16), Guy Walter’s King Of The Forest (9) and the Jim Conlan-trained Rive Gauche (3) last seen finishing a brave fourth to Backbone in the Galilee Final.
Zabeel gelding Rive Gauche broke their maiden status first-up on March 10 with a big four length victory at Kyneton over 1887-meters and is bred to stay the St Leger distance.
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2012 VRC St Leger Final Field & Barrier Draw
Flemington Race 6 – 3:55pm – 25/04/2012
|1||00X21171||BACKBONE||Michael Kent||Brad Rawiller||6||57.5kg||74|
|2||9X15511X07||METHUSELAH||John McArdle||Jarrod Todd||12||57.5kg||70|
|3||9X01551252||STARKIATO||John Sadler||Glen Boss||16||56kg||68|
|4||4X306X1583||VATUVEI||Peter G Moody||Luke Nolen||14||56kg||62|
|5||55X861017||DUEL LOVER (NZ)||Nigel Blackiston||Michael Walker||10||56kg||65|
|6||541X791722||COMPELLED (NZ)||Eric Musgrove||Craig Robertson||4||56kg||61|
|7||0X62324351||BABY BOY||Ron Daniel||Craig Newitt||13||56kg||62|
|8||9X870314||KING OF THE FOREST||Guy Walter||Michael Rodd||9||56kg||60|
|9||9718606X72||THE SATIRIST||Peter Healey||Ms Katelyn Mallyon (a)||2||56kg||57|
|10||6X6X166||PRACTICED||Robert Hickmott||Craig Williams||7||56kg||62|
|11||663X14||RIVE GAUCHE||Jim Conlan||Dwayne Dunn||3||56kg||60|
|12||7X2722||PRESIDE (NZ)||Eric Musgrove||Jack Hill||1||56kg||60|
|13||09X80510||ABOUT THE JOURNEY (NZ)||Peter Gelagotis||Daniel Moor||11||56kg||58|
|14||5363||TORANOS||Michael Kent||Chris Symons||5||56kg||57|
|15||2X653517||WITTENOOM WAY||Gerald Ryan||Damien Oliver||8||54kg||62|
|16||1X8X6619||ALLGRACEFUL||Patrick Payne||Ms Michelle Payne||15||54kg||64|