Gai Waterhouse’s last start Sapphire Stakes winner Cosmic Endeavour heads a quality line-up of fillies and mares nominated to face off in The 2014 Darley Crown at Hawkesbury Racecourse this weekend.
One of three Group races on the stand-alone Hawkesbury Gold Cup Day meeting on Saturday, this year’s $150,000 Group 3 The 2014 Darley Crown (1300m) attracted 19 at nomination stage on Monday.
Leading the entries is Northern Meteor filly Cosmic Endeavour who scored her maiden Black-Type title at Randwick on April 19 when beating home Avoid Lightning by an easy two lengths in the Group 2 Sapphire Stakes (1200m).
She’s up in distance on the weekend and also rises from 53kg to 57kg under the set weights plus penalties conditions in her attempt to go back-to-back.
Sapphire Stakes runner-up Avoid Lightning meanwhile will have 58kg in the 2014 The Darley Crown, Les Bridge’s Blevic mare having won the Group 3 Birthday Card Stakes (1200m) at Rosehill before her last start second.
Also coming via the Sapphire are the likes of the Luke Price-trained third placed Belle De Coeur and Peter Moody’s fourth placegetter Plucky Belle who was also runner-up in the Birthday Card Stakes.
Reigning The Darley Crown winner Aerobatics meanwhile is back to defend her title this weekend.
The Peter Snowden-trained Exceed And Excel five-year-old has won only one race, a Group 3 at Caulfield in October, since her Hawkesbury win last May and comes via a Sapphire Stakes fifth.
She was fifth the run before at Randwick under very similar conditions before her Hawkesbury Crown win 12 months ago and so looks in the perfect position to score again and round out another good prep for Snowden.
Snowden plays a strong hand in The Darley Crown nominations this year too having entered for four other runners with out-of-form Shamardal mare Cameo, consistent four-year-old Seaside, Belle Of The Turf runner-up Pleiades and third in that same race La Pieta.
His son Paul Snowden is also represented in the entries by Commanding Wit, the Commands mare last seen winning over 1250m at Canterbury on March 12.
Along with the winner Aerobatics the other notable mare that ran in last year’s Darley Crown is Waterhouse’s other hopeful Miss Stellabelle (4th), the Dehere five-year-old coming off a sixth to Catkins in the Group 3 Wiggle Stakes (1400m) from March 8.
Other top hopes in the mix then include the lightly-raced Tony McEvoy-trained Snitzel filly Kayjay’s Joy who has run top three in all three of her starts to date and David Payne’s Sapphire Stakes sixth placed four-year-old Lilliburlero.
The complete The 2014 Darley Crown nominations are listed below, final acceptances out on Wednesday.
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2014 The Darley Crown Nominations
Hawkesbury Racecourse – 03/05/2014
|2||AVOID LIGHTNING||Les Bridge||101|
|3||BELLE DE COEUR||Luke Price||81|
|4||BUGABOO (ARG)||Grahame Begg||76|
|6||CHATHAM HOUSE||Michael, Wayne & John Hawkes||75|
|7||COMMANDING WIT||Paul Snowden||72|
|8||COSMIC ENDEAVOUR||Gai Waterhouse||101|
|9||KAYJAY’S JOY||Tony McEvoy||66|
|10||LA PIETA||Peter Snowden||80|
|12||MISS STELLABELLE||Gai Waterhouse||97|
|14||PLUCKY BELLE||Peter G Moody||99|
|15||QUEEN’S ELECT||Joseph Pride||83|
|17||SUCH A PRINCESS||Kerry Parker||75|
|18||THE MESSINA NYMPH||Tony McEvoy||73|
|19||VILLA SPLENDIDO||Garry White||71|