One of the lower key features on a crack Sydney Cup Day program at Royal Randwick on Saturday is the Frank Packer Plate 2012, nominations for which were released by Racing NSW on Monday.
While most eyes will be on the day’s four Group 1 features there is still plenty to like about the quality of contenders set to line up in this year’s edition of the $125,000 Group 3 Frank Packer Plate (2000m) which drew 15 early entries.
The two top rated nominees for the three-year-olds set weight clash are the Peter Snowden-trained Ambidexter and Anthony Cummings’ Group 1 placegetter Strike The Stars.
Commands colt Ambidexter comes off four promising fourth place finishes, the two most recent of which were at elite level.
After finishing only three quarters of a length away fourth to Mosheen in the Group 1 Randwick Guineas (1600m) on March 17 Ambidexter was last seen crossing just over half a length away fourth to Laser Hawk in the Group 1 Rosehill Guineas (2000m) on March 31.
Running over the 2000-metres again on Saturday the colt looks well positioned to finally break their Group duck and win their first race since a Listed success at Warwick Farm last September.
Strike The Stars has also been racing competitively at the highest level this autumn starting with an Australian Guineas second behind Mosheen second-up in early March.
After a disappointing Randwick Guineas seventh the Savabeel gelding would run fifth in the Rosehill Guineas before their most recent effort when beaten under two lengths finishing fourth to Ethiopia in the Australian Derby (24000m) on April 14 at Randwick.
Cummings has also nominated for Hotel Grand gelding Imperial Grand and Outback Prince colt Outlaw Prince.
Coming via the Randwick and Rosehill Guineas is the right form line for the Frank Packer Plate as last year’s winner Shootoff, who went on to win the Queensland Derby at Eagle Farm in the winter, ran ninth and 11th respectively in the Guineas’ before their win.
Meanwhile the in-form Gai Waterhouse, who has prepared five Group 1 winners in the past four weeks, has entered the flying Fat Al in this year’s Frank Packer.
The Al Maher gelding has won four of their six career starts to date including both their assignments this time in.
After a smart first-up success in the Albury Guineas (1400m) on March 23 they were last seen putting two lengths on Now You Know to win the Group 3 Carbine Club Stakes (1600m) in impressive fashion.
Saturday will be their first look at the 2000-metres but they should handle the distance no worries having won an Inglis 3YO Handicap over 1900m at Canterbury last November by a commanding five and a half lengths.
Waterhouse could also be represented in the race by her lightly-raced Redoute’s Choice gelding Just The Tonic.
Other notable Frank Packer Plate nominations for 2012 include the Paul Messara-trained Rekindled Alliance coming off an Australian Derby fifth, John Thompson’s promising stayer Isopach and the John O’Shea-trained Iggi Pop to be ridden by ace Kiwi hoop James McDonald – the trio having run second, third and fourth respectively in the Tulloch Stakes on Golden Slipper Day.
The Sydney Cup Day acceptances for all races, except for today’s Sydney Cup field release, are due out on Thursday.
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2012 Frank Packer Plate Nominations
Royal Randwick – 28/04/2012
|2||DANZIG KING||Bob Thomsen||10||56.5kg||59|
|3||DEVONSHIRE DUKE (NZ)||Michael Moroney||12||56.5kg||59|
|4||FAT AL||Gai Waterhouse||6||56.5kg||87|
|6||HUEGILL||Peter G Moody||5||56.5kg||85|
|7||IGGI POP (NZ)||John O’Shea||9||56.5kg||72|
|8||IMPERIAL GRAND||Anthony Cummings||8||56.5kg||65|
|9||ISOPACH||John P Thompson||2||56.5kg||84|
|10||JUST THE TONIC||Gai Waterhouse||7||56.5kg||74|
|11||OUTLAW PRINCE||Anthony Cummings||11||56.5kg||63|
|12||PLATINUM JACK||Scott Singleton||15||56.5kg||–|
|14||REKINDLED ALLIANCE||Paul Messara||4||56.5kg||90|
|15||STRIKE THE STARS (NZ)||Anthony Cummings||1||56.5kg||95|