Nominations for the Listed Festival Stakes (1500m) were taken on Monday, with 19 horses declaring for the Rosehill Gardens race this Saturday.
Featured among the nominations is the Scott Aspery-trained Estonian Princess, who has run consistently this campaign but failed to finish in the first three more than once. The four-year-old mare missed out on a placing in four of her five spring starts but Aspery is confident his team has learned from their mistakes and a 2014 Festival Stakes win is within reach.
The mare, who finished runner-up in the Group 3 Angst Stakes (1600m) back in October, was a fast finishing fifth in the Group 1 Myer Classic (1600m) the following month, finishing just under two lengths off winner Bonaria in a strong run. Aspery then decided to send Estonian Princess to Sandown for the Group 3 Summoned Stakes (1500m) but quickly found out the four-year-old did not like the track.
She’ll be able to handle the Rosehill track much more effectively, according to the trainer.
“I am [confident about the Festival Stakes],” Aspery told The Sydney Morning Herald.
“I think she is at her best in fillies’ and mares’ grade and those horses have proved there’s not a great margin between them.
“A lot of it comes down to luck in running. She’s definitely showed she’s up to the mares grade in group-1 level and going back to listed level I think she’s going to be really hard to beat.”
Aspery has grand ambitions for Estonian Princess, who helped put his small stable up in lights, during the autumn. If she nab a win on Saturday, a tilt in the Group 1 Coolmore Classic (1500m) may be on the cards.
“I think the Coolmore Classic would be a perfect race for her in the autumn and she’s showed she’s up to that grade against her own sex,” Aspery said.
“I’ve got a firm eye in the autumn and we’ll get through this preparation and take it from there.”
Check out the complete list of nominations for the Festival Stakes and be sure to come back on Wednesday when the final field is released at Races.com.au.
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