Epingle Heads 2014 Epona Stakes Nominations

Diamond Drille

Aspiration Quality winner Diamond Drille is among Saturday's 2014 Epona Stakes nominations. Photo: Steve Hart.

Fresh off two Group triumphs in Tasmania, Michael Kent’s Cranbourne-based mare Epingle has now been nominated for the Epona Stakes 2014 at Rosehill Racecourse this Saturday.

One of eight Group races on the Rosehill Guineas Day program on the weekend, this year’s $150,000 Group 3 Epona Stakes (1900m) has attracted a bumper 20 fillies and mares at nomination stage.

The headliner among those nominees is Pins six-year-old Epingle after her third Group 3 victory on the trot.

A consistent stayer, Epingle caught the eye in Melbourne during the spring racing competitively in a number of longer distanced features including her second behind Sertorius in the Group 2 Zipping Classic (2400m) at Caulfield.

This seasons she’s been right on form again, relishing a trip to the Apple Isle.

There she put three lengths on star local Geegees Blackflash firstly to win the Group 3 Hobart Cup (2400m).

She then made it a double with another nice win this time over Gold To Go in the Launceston Cup with Craig Williams aboard both times.

Still only lightly raced for her age, Epingle will be having her 26th career start if accepted for the Epona Stakes where Kent is confident she can keep the good run going.

”She’s always promised to be a stayer and the owners have been patient,” Kent told The Age after her Launceston win that saw her pick up a $100,000 bonus.

“I told them to take their time and I am sure she will repay you, and she has. It’s been a worthwhile trip; she has really done well.”

Also on Epingle’s radar is a possible chance to show off her true staying potential, being out of a Zabeel mare, in the $1 million Group 1 Sydney Cup (3200mm) on April 19 for which she currently pays $21 to win through Ladbrokes.com.au.

Twelve months ago Epingle ran a close second to Aliyana Tilde in the Epona when defeated a mere long neck, and after her improvement since she’s sure to start favourite on the weekend to go one better.

Another last-start winner in the Epona Stakes noms this year is then the Gai Waterhouse-trained Diamond Drille.

A four-year-old daughter of Al Maher, Diamond Drille was outstanding in the final stages of the Group 3 Aspiration Quality over the Randwick mile on March 15.

After getting a long way back early she flashed home in a gutsy effort to narrowly defeat Mahara in the final stride, an effort she’ll be looking to repeat to score her fifth career win from nine starts in the Epona.

Waterhouse has also nominated for her High Chaparral four-year-old Porcellanus out to improve on their disappointing first-up effort when dead last behind their stable mate in the Aspiration.

Guy Walter’s Aspiration runner-up Mahara, a winner of her two runs before that, gets her chance to turn the tables on Epingle this Saturday having also been nominated for the Epona along with the third placed Danesiri.

Others come via good recent runs also include the Gerald Ryan-trained Northam Cup champ Angel Of Mercy, Intimate Moment who ran fourth in the Aspiration last start and the Tony McEvoy-trained Lonhro mare Amarachi in her first Group race assignment.

Also in the mix are then the likes of reigning Queensland Oaks champion Gondokoro dropping back in class after a last in the Ranvet Stakes last Saturday, Scorpio Queen also on the short back-up after a Group 1 Coolmore Classic sixth last weekend and the John O’Shea-trained Lucky Lago who has been thereabouts this season.

Check out the full Epona Stakes 2014 nominations and set weights below, numbers that will be cut at final acceptance stage tomorrow morning.

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2014 Epona Stakes Nominations & Ballot

Rosehill Gardens – 29/03/2014

# Horse Trainer Ballot Weight Hcp. Rating
1 GONDOKORO (NZ) Pat Carey 2 59kg 101
2 EPINGLE (NZ) Michael Kent 1 56.5kg 105
3 DIAMOND DRILLE Gai Waterhouse 7= 56kg 84
4 ANGEL OF MERCY Gerald Ryan 4 55.5kg 89
5 SCORPIO QUEEN Les Kelly 3 55.5kg 93
6 EXPRESS POWER Kris Lees 9 55kg 82
7 AMARACHI Tony McEvoy 17 54kg 74
8 ANY DAY WILL DO Guy Walter 7= 54kg 84
9 DANESIRI Wayne Wilkes 11= 54kg 79
10 INTIMATE MOMENT (NZ) Ron Quinton 14 54kg 77
11 KNEAD THE DOUGH (NZ) Guy Walter 15 54kg 76
12 LUCKY LAGO John O’Shea 5= 54kg 85
13 MAHARA Guy Walter 10 54kg 81
14 PANKO David Atkins 19 5 4kg 67
15 PORCELLANUS (NZ) Gai Waterhouse 11= 54kg 79
16 PRETTY PINS (NZ) John P Thompson 5= 54kg 85
17 TRANSONIC John P Thompson 11= 54kg 79
18 INTO THE GROOVE John P Thompson 20 53kg 61
19 QUAYSIDE David Payne 18 53kg 71
20 SENSIBILITY Peter G Moody 16 53kg 75

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