The 2014 Manfred Stakes is set to be a key lead-up race to the three-year-old events during the 2014 Melbourne Festival Of Racing; with a number of Group 1 contenders set to return to the races in the Group 3 event at Caulfield on Saturday.
David Hayes-trained Fast ‘N’ Rocking has not been seen at the races since he finished at the tail of the field in the Group 1 Coolmore Stud Stakes (1200m) at Flemington on Victoria Derby Day.
The Fastnet Rock colt broke through for his maiden win a win in the Group 3 McNeil Stakes (1200m) at Caulfield on August 31 and went into the Group 1 Golden Rose (1400m) as one of the favourites, but could finish no better than tenth.
He failed to fire in the Group 3 Caulfield Guineas Prelude (1400m) and Hayes elected to him withdraw him from the Group 1 Caulfield Guineas (1600m), before he was dropped back in distance for the Coolmore Stud Stakes.
Prince Harada is another talented colt who will be returning to the races for the first time since what a slightly disappointing 2013 Spring Racing Carnival campaign.
The three-year-old resumed with an unlucky second place finish behind Fast ‘N’ Rocking in the McNeil Stakes and, once again, had no luck when fifth behind Zoustar in the Golden Rose, before ending his campaign with a sixth place finish in the Caulfield Guineas.
Prince Harada is set to return to Group 1 level for the Australian Guineas (1600m) at Flemington on March 1, after running in the Group 3 CS Hayes Stakes (1400m) at February 15, and will head to Sydney where he could contest the Group 1 Royal Randwick Guineas (1600m) on March 15 and the Group 1 Doncaster Mile (1600m) on April 12.
Another Australian Guineas contender who is set to return to the races in the Manfred Stakes is Gai Waterhouse-trained Bull Point.
Bull Point worked his way through the grades in his maiden racing campaign and made his Group 1 debut with a remarkable performance when third in the Golden Rose.
The son of Fastnet Rock lost contact with the field in the early stages of the race and was a distant last, but flew home late to finish third behind Zoustar and Dissident.
2013 Quezette Stakes winner Kiss A Rose, $1 million colt Monkstone, Michael Kent-trained Pyrrolic, Choisir colt Resistant, last start winner The Quarterback and Mick Price-trained Worth A Ransom are also set to return to the races in the Manfred Stakes.
One of the few horses in the field that has already started their autumn campaign is Robbie Laing-trained Lord Of The Sky.
Lord Of The Sky returned to the races with a comfortable win in the National Patient Transport Handicap (1000m) at Caulfield on December 7 before recording a dominant six and a half lengths victory in the Guinot International Handicap (1000m) at the same venue on January 15.
Laing has an extremely high opinion of Lord Of The Sky and has the Group 1 Oakleigh Plate (1100m) at Caulfield on February 22 on the agenda for the son of Danerich.
The final 2014 Manfred Stakes field and barrier draw will be released on Monday.
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2014 Manfred Stakes Nominations
|1||BULL POINT||Gai Waterhouse||86|
|2||CRUDEN BAY||Anthony Freedman||72|
|3||FAST ’N’ ROCKING||David Hayes||90|
|4||HARD STRIDE||Mathew Ellerton & Simon Zahra||63|
|5||KISS A ROSE||Peter G Moody||86|
|6||LORD OF THE SKY||Robbie Laing||80|
|7||MONKSTONE||Peter G Moody||68|
|8||PRINCE HARADA||Tony Vasil||76|
|11||THE QUARTERBACK||Robbie Griffiths||70|
|12||WORTH A RANSOM||Mick Price||68|