A total of 13 horses have been confirmed to line up for the 2014 Autumn Classic (1800m) at Caulfield on Saturday following the release of the final field and barrier draw for the Group 2 event this morning, including Vilanova.
Vilanova recorded a somewhat unsure start to his Australian tenure after transferring to the care of trainer Chris Waller from his native New Zealand, however did manage to finish runner up in both the Group 2 Bollinger Champagne Classic (1200m) and Group 2 BRC Sires’ Produce Stakes (1350m).
Opening his current preparation with two third place finishes, Waller is confident the Commands gelding’s race fitness will go a long way in the Autumn Classic, but will need to get away well after drawing the unfortunate barrier 10.
Also included in the final field for the 2014 Autumn Classic is Mick Price-trained Countersnip, whose chances at success received a huge boost when securing a start from barrier 3.
Left in the spelling paddock over the 2013 sping, Countersnip has returned to the track in top form, having won the CRV Hospital Helping Hand Plate (1400m) before finishing a close third to Inner Warrior and Geegees Velvet in the Listed Tasmanian Guineas (1600m).
Unable to find a clear run in the Group 2 Autumn Stakes two weeks ago, the Stratum gelding’s first attempt on a Group-level event, Price is still confident in a successful run in the Autumn Classic for Countersnip, who will be much better for the run.
As expected, trainer Michael Kent will saddle the most runners in the 2014 Autumn Classic but will now feature only two; Accord (barrier 13) and Mysonharry (barrier 4) after electing to aim fresh three-year-old Pyrrolic at different events over the coming weeks.
Despite a less-than-convincing tilt at the Group 2 Autumn Stakes two weeks ago, Accord opened his so-far short racing career with a head turning win in the SKM Recycling Plate (1600m) in October and is widely expected to perform as his career progresses throughout 2014.
Kent has a high opinion of the Dubawi colt, who is starting to form a strong bond with champion jockey Craig Williams, once again retaining the ride for the Autumn Classic.
Carrying winning form into the 2014 Autumn Classic, Anthony Cummings-trained Alpha Beat will need to find good position early after drawing the unfortunate barrier 12.
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2014 Autumn Classic Final Field and Barrier Draw
|No||Last 10||Horse||Trainer||Jockey||Barrier||Weight||Hcp Rating|
|1||30580×3377||VILANOVA (NZ)||Chris Waller||Craig Newitt||10||57kg||72|
|2||13×21335||COUNTERSNIP||Mick Price||Noel Callow||3||57kg||70|
|3||81126×6322||JADE’S BOY||Robert Smerdon||Michael Rodd||2||57kg||68|
|4||42457×6||BRING SOMETHING||Ken Keys||Glen Boss||9||57kg||65|
|5||5151||ALPHA BEAT||Anthony Cummings||Damien Oliver||12||57kg||67|
|6||6×11||SAGUARO (NZ)||Peter G Moody||Luke Nolen||6||57kg||67|
|8||1×8||ACCORD||Michael Kent||Craig Williams||13||57kg||64|
|9||27×614||CALENDAR LAD||Greg Eurell||Chris Symons||8||57kg||63|
|10||332×143||JUSTICEFORALL||John & Chris Ledger||Mark Zahra||1||57kg||62|
|11||41||DELIBERATE||Peter Snowden||Vlad Duric||7||57kg||63|
|12||651||MISS HISSY||Pat Carey||Steven King||11||55kg||62|
|13||960×38||FLAMETREE OF THIKA (NZ)||Shea Eden||Rhys McLeod||5||55kg||53|