Racing Victoria’s chief handicapper Greg Carpenter is tipping an above capacity number of entries for Sunday’s 2014 Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes in Melbourne this weekend with Dan Excel to headline the nominations.
Three great race meetings are scheduled across the weekend thanks to Moir Stakes Night under the lights on Friday evening, Sydney hosting Golden Pendant Day on Saturday and Caulfield’s Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes Day meeting to run on the Sunday to avoid a clash with the AFL Grand Final the day before.
The race most likely to attract the stars is Sunday’s $400,000 Group 1 Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes (1400m) which has the capacity for an 18-starter field.
Carpenter though predicts more than 18 nominations when early entries are released today and is especially keen to see the inclusion of John Moore’s Hong Kong raider Dan Excel.
“I think with the interest that is building up we’ll have more than the 18 starters once acceptances are taken,” he told The Sydney Morning Herald.
“It’s had wide-ranging interest and the appearance of Dan Excel adds just another interesting dimension to the event.”
The Shamardal gelding is already in Australia with Moore’s brother Gary and the Sir Rupert Clarke is penciled in for the seven-year-olds’ new season return.
Last seen winning the Group 1 International Singapore Cup (2000m) at Kranji in May, Dan Excel also has form in Europe but is yet to race down under where his trainer originates from.
Early talk was for Tommy Berry to take the reins aboard Dan Excel on Sunday, the young hoop having plenty of Hong Kong race experience and a top profile over there.
However he has opted to reunite with the Gai Waterhouse-trained Snitzel mare Sweet Idea instead.
Berry rode the four-year-old two back at Randwick for her win in the Group 2 Missile Stakes (1200m) but missed her latest start when Craig Newitt rode her to a second behind Peter Moody’s 2014 Cox Plate hope Dissident in the Group 1 Memsie Stakes (1400m) on August 30.
Damien Oliver then has picked up the prized Dan Excel ride for the Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes for which Dissident is also entered.
Moody bypassed last Saturday’s Underwood Stakes with his in-form four-year-old Dissident instead saving the son of Sebring for the Sir Rupert where he’ll shoot for a third Group 1 win on the trot.
His effort in the Memsie first-up was repeated at Flemington on September 13 with Dissident beating another crack field in the Group 1 Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m), the step down in distance this week the only query.
Other possible Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes runners include Peter & Paul Snowden’s last start Group 2 Theo Marks Stakes winner Cluster and last season’s Group 1 George Ryder runner-up Speediness.
Stay tuned to Races.com.au to view the official Sir Rupert Clarkes Stakes 2014 nominations to be published shortly.
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