Epsom Handicap hopeful Cluster will continue his run towards the Sydney Spring Racing Carnival Group 1 this weekend at Rosehill as the headliner in the Shannon Stakes 2014entries.
The Fastnet Rock four-year-old is one of a bumper 18 nominations taken for this Saturday’s $175,000 Group 2 Shannon Stakes (1500m), a nice lead-up for gallopers heading towards the following weekend’s $500,000 Group 1 Epsom Handicap (1600m) at Royal Randwick.
In flying form this time in, Cluster has won three of his past four starts most recently stepping back up in class for the Group 2 Theo Marks Stakes (1400m) which he narrowly won over Bull Point on September 13.
Formerly prepared by Anthony Cummings, Cluster hasn’t raced in Group 1 company since a disappointing 10th when blocked for a run in the Caulfield Guineas last year but the Snowdens are hopeful he can get back up to that class this campaign.
The shortest priced of the Shannon Stakes entries in early Epsom Handicap odds at Ladbrokes.com.au paying around $15 in markets led by doubtful acceptor Royal Descent meanwhile is Rock Sturdy.
Joe Pride’s Fastnet Rock four-year-old will be on the short seven day turnaround if accepted following a brave second to comeback winner Manawanui in the Group 3 Bill Ritchie Handicap (1400m) last Saturday at Randwick.
That was up-and-comer’s just second look at a Group field and improvement is expected off that.
Pride has also nominated for his Savabeel mare Chintz, the six-year-old Group 1 placegetter back in her native New Zealand out to improve on a first-up 10th to Catkins in the Group 3 Sheraco Staeks (1200m) from a fortnight ago.
Another Shannon Stakes entry coming via the Bill Ritchie over the weekend is then the third placed Tougher Than Ever for Chris Waller.
Waller has four possible runners too having also nominated for seven-year-old Riva De Lago, Group 3 winning Commands four-year-old Vilanova and British import Rugged Cross.
Two back Cape Cross six-year-old Rugged Cross won over the Shannon Stakes track (Rosehill) and distance (1500m) defeating Tougher Than Ever in a Benchmark 95 before he travelled to Newcastle on September 17 and ran second to Hooked in the Group 3 Cameron Handicap (1500m).
Along with Cluster the other last start winner nominated for the race is then Kelly Schweida’s Stratum gelding Epic, after his fourth win from five starts following back-to-back Doomben wins over the mile this time in.
The Hawkes-trained Ninth Legion is another top Epsom Handicap chance at $26 in futures betting that could have a lead-up in the Shannon Stakes, the five-year-old coming off a third to Cluster in the Theo Marks.
Other notable hopes include John Sargent’s Crown Oaks winning mare Kirramosa coming off a sixth in the Theo Marks Stakes, recent Rowley Mile winner Mr Chard and Theo Marks fourth placed Brisbane raider Jetset Lad.
See below for the full Shannon Stakes 2014 nominations with the field due out on Wednesday.
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2014 Shannon Stakes Nominations
Rosehill Racecourse – 27/09/2014
|2||BEST CASE (NZ)||Anthony Cummings||85|
|3||CHINTZ (NZ)||Joseph Pride||97|
|4||CLUSTER||Peter & Paul Snowden||101|
|6||EXCESS KNOWLEDGE (GB)||Gai Waterhouse||90|
|7||JETSET LAD (NZ)||Brian Smith||95|
|8||KIRRAMOSA (NZ)||John Sargent||102|
|9||LIBERTY’S CHOICE||Gai Waterhouse||84|
|10||MIDSUMMER SUN (GB)||Sam Kavanagh||96|
|11||MR CHARD||Tony McEvoy||95|
|12||NINTH LEGION||Michael, Wayne & John Hawkes||100|
|13||RIVA DE LAGO||Chris Waller||101|
|14||ROCK STURDY||Joseph Pride||95|
|15||RUGGED CROSS (GB)||Chris Waller||93|
|16||TOUGHER THAN EVER (NZ)||Chris Waller||93|
|17||VILANOVA (NZ)||Chris Waller||94|
|18||ZEPHYRON (NZ)||Michael, Wayne & John Hawkes||99|