Marco Botti’s European raider Guest Of Honour is set to make his Australian race debut ahead of a Cox Plate bid in Saturday’s Toorak Handicap 2014 at Caulfield Racecourse.
One of four Group 1 features on the Caulfield Guineas Day line-up in Melbourne this weekend, the $400,000 Group 1 David Jones NBCF Toorak Handicap (1600m) attracted 17 nominations.
One of the top-rated and most intriguing entries is Cape Cross stallion Guest Of Honour who heads towards a run in Moonee Valley’s $3 million Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) on October 25.
A $41 outsider in Cox Plate betting at Ladbrokes.com.au, the six-year-old international has won his past two on the trot back home during our winter including the Group 2 Summer Mile Stakes (1609m) back on July 12 where he defeated Mull Of Killough (2nd) and former Caulfield Guineas winner Long John (3rd).
The top rated of the Toorak Handicap nominations meanwhile is the Leon & Troy Corstens-trained mare Commanding Jewel.
The Group 1 winning daughter of Commands is now in her five-year-old season but has had just 10 career starts due to injury setbacks.
This season she’s had three runs for three top three finishes including a successful title defense in the Group 2 Let’s Elope Stakes (1400m) and then her shock last start loss as the beaten $1.65 favourite when third to Dear Demi in the Group 2 Stocks Stakes (1600m) at Moonee Valley on September 26.
Commanding Jewel is allocated 56.5kg for the Toorak while Guest Of Honour is the 58kg top weight of the nominees.
Between the raider and the mare in the Toorak Handicap weights is then the Colin Scott-trained Speediness with 57.5kg.
A seven-year-old son of Testa Rossa, Speediness ran second in the Group 1 George Ryder Stakes (1500m) back in March but was very disappointing last time out when second last (13th) and beaten over seven and a half lengths in the Group 1 Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes (1400m) here at Caulfield.
Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes winner Trust In A Gust meanwhile is also nominated for Saturday’s showdown and is looking to become the third horse in recent history to complete the Sir Rupert – Toorak double joining Regal Roller (2004) and Barley A Moment (2005).
The latest Toorak Handicap winner to come via the Sir Rupert meanwhile was Divine Madonna (2007) who ran fifth in the lead-up before her victory.
The other best performed Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes runner backing up in the Toorak Handicap this year is the Chris Waller-trained Bull Point.
The Fastnet Rock four-year-old ran second to Cluster two back in the Group 2 Theo Marks Stakes (1400m) in Sydney before his third to Trust In A Gust when carrying 52kg the same as the winner.
Both Trust In A Gust and Bull Point however rise in the weights for the weekend going up to 56.5kg and 54.5kg respectively.
Also weighted above the 53kg minimum for Saturday are the likes of the Team Hawkes-trained Atlante (54.5kg) who ran eighth in the Sir Rupert, last start Group 3 Golden Pendant winning mare Arabian Gold (54kg) who has won four of her past five starts and Stocks Stakes runner-up Solicit (53.5kg).
See below for the full Toorak Handicap 2014 nominations and weights with the final field set for release on Wednesday.
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2014 Toorak Handicap Nominations & Ballot
Caulfield Racecourse – 11/10/2014
|1||COMMANDING JEWEL||Leon & Troy Corstens||1||56.5kg||109|
|2||GUEST OF HONOUR (IRE)||Marco Botti||2||58kg||108|
|4||TRUST IN A GUST||Darren Weir||4||56.5kg||105|
|5||ARABIAN GOLD||David Vandyke||5||54kg||104|
|6||SOLICIT||Mathew Ellerton & Simon Zahra||6||53.5kg||103|
|7||RECITE (NZ)||John Bary||7||53kg||101|
|8||BULL POINT||Chris Waller||8||54.5kg||101|
|9||ATLANTE||Michael, Wayne & John Hawkes||9||54.5kg||101|
|10||LATE CHARGE||Wendy Kelly||10||53kg||98|
|11||RHYTHM TO SPARE (NZ)||Michael Moroney||11||53kg||98|
|14||DESERT JEUNEY||Nigel Blackiston||14||53kg||92|
|16||SPIRIT OF HEAVEN (NZ)||Peter G Moody||16||53kg||83|
|17||TRISTRAM’S SUN (NZ)||Robbie Laing||17||53kg||82|