Gai Waterhouse’s Group 1 winning gelding Almalad will face eight rivals as he looks to return to winning form in Friday night’s Bill Stutt Stakes 2014 under the lights at Moonee Valley Racecourse.
One of the key support races on the Moir Stakes Night program, this year’s $200,000 Group 2 Jeep Stutt Stakes (1600m) has drawn a final field of nine hopefuls led by Al Maher three-year-old Alamald.
Drawn in barrier six with Tommy Berry riding, Almalad won the Group 1 JJ Atkins (1600m) as an unbeaten juvenile in Brisbane back in June.
This time in however, he has failed to live up to that same potential.
First-up over 1200m a Heavy (9) track and 60kg top weight saw him run second last when ninth to Hallowed Crown in the Group 3 Run To The Rose.
He improved on that in the Group 1 Golden Rose (1400m) on September 13 running fourth and this time beaten only one and a half lengths by the same horse, Hallowed Crown.
Saturday he should be fitter for those two runs and ready to hit his peak stepping back up to the mile but it is Almalad’s Melbourne debut so he needs to handle the opposite way of going as well as the tight turns the track is known for.
“He is looking for a trip and 2000 metres and beyond is not going to worry him at all,” Berry told The Age this week, Almalad heading towards a run in the $400,000 Group 1 Spring Champion Stakes (2000m) at Royal Randwick on October 11.
“He was good in the Golden Rose and he should be a good start to the weekend.”
The shortest priced of the other Stutt Stakes hopefuls in futures Spring Champion Stakes betting at Ladbrokes.com.au meanwhile is the John O’Shea-trained Kumaon paying $11 for next month’s showdown.
Drawn wide in barrier eight with Kerrin McEvoy riding this weekend, the Godolphin-owned Lonhro colt is already Group 1 placed having finished third to Go Indy Go in the Champagne Stakes over the mile in April.
First-up Kumaon was second in the Run To The Rose but things went amiss and he failed to fire when 10th, beaten over five lengths in the Golden Rose last time out.
Another Champagne Stakes graduate from April 26 in the Bill Stutt Stakes field this year is then runner-up Zululand for recently formed training partnership David Hayes & Tom Dabernig.
Damien Oliver has the ride on the Fastnet Rock colt on Friday night with Zululand coming off two seventh place finishes.
The most recent of those was behind Merion in the Listed Living Legends Stakes (1400m) at Flemington a fortnight ago, a run better than it looked on paper with only three lengths separating him and the winner.
The Euroa-based Hayes & Dabernig have also accepted for the lightly-raced Mihany (barrier seven) who has just his third career start here.
A first-up winner on August 26 on debut at Geelong, the nicely-bred Redoute’s Choice colt is in black type company for the first time with his only other run being a second over 1400m at Bendigo earlier in the month.
Also in good form and running in the Bill Stutt are then the Mark Kavanagh-trained Chivalry with the rails draw and Peter Moody’s promising Caveka.
Street Cry colt Chivalry won the Group 3 McNeil Stakes (120m) first-up at Caulfield before a second to Merion in the Living Legends last time out, the form of which could stack up here.
Caveka meanwhile has won two of his three career starts, the Written Tycoon gelding’s latest effort being a victory over War Point over the 1500m at Moonee Valley on September 6.
Rounding out the Stutt Stakes field are then the Mick Price-trained Living Legends fourth placed Group 3 Adelaide winner Moonovermanhattan and Lloyd Kennewell’s Adelaide raider Silent Whisper who ran fifth in the same lead-up race, the pair drawn in barriers five and four respectively.
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2014 Jeep Stutt Stakes Final Field & Barrier Draw
Moonee Valley Race 7 (9:45pm) – 26/09/2014
|No.||Form (Last 10)||Horse||Trainer||Jockey||Barrier||Weight||Hcp. Rating|
|1||1x11x94||ALMALAD||Gai Waterhouse||Tommy Berry||6||57kg||96|
|2||x49152x577||ZULULAND||David Hayes & Tom Dabernig||Damien Oliver||3||57kg||84|
|3||2138×12||CHIVALRY||Mark Kavanagh||Glen Boss||1||57kg||84|
|4||13x263x20||KUMAON||John O’Shea||Kerrin McEvoy||8||57kg||82|
|5||1×04||MOONOVERMANHATTAN||Mick Price||Craig Newitt||5||57kg||72|
|6||213×3||ZEBULON (NZ)||Peter Morgan & Craig Widdison||Stephen Baster||2||57kg||70|
|7||171||CAVEKA Super Vobis Bonus Scheme||Peter G Moody||Luke Nolen||9||57kg||70|
|8||63x303x125||SILENT WHISPER||Lloyd Kennewell||Mark Zahra||4||57kg||66|
|9||12||MIHANY||David Hayes & Tom Dabernig||Michael Walker||7||57kg||64|