Early entries are now out for the New Year’s Day feature at Victoria’s Flemington Racecourse with Group 1 placegetter Aeronautical leading the early Standish Handicap 2015 nominations for Thursday.
Lionel Cohen’s Encosta De Lago six-year-old is one of 19 early entries taken for this summer’s $150,000 Group 3 Standish Handicap (1200m), the gelding out to improve on two sixth place finishes this time in.
Aeronautical is best known for his brilliant third behind Shamexpress and Moment Of Change in the Group 1 Newmarket Handicap (1200m) over the same track and distance as the Standish back in March last year.
He was beaten only a long neck that day and Cohen believes he is tracking well enough to produce similar form on Thursday, his first run since his sixth behind Our Boy Malachi in the Listed Starlight Stakes (1100m) at Rosehill on November 29.
The other headline Standish Handicap nominee for this week’s showdown is Snitzel gelding Amorino debuting for young Ballarat trainer, English expat Archie Alexander.
The five-year-old galloper, originally prepared by Gerald Ryan as a youngster for runs in the Group 1 Golden Slipper (9th) and Golden Rose (7th) in 2012, has spent the past 18 months in Western Australia with Grant Williams.
Under Williams care he returned to form with a number of good black-type victories including the Bunbury Stakes – Grandstand Cup double back in the autumn.
This spring – summer season he was tested in elite level company again when eighth behind Elite Belle in the Group 1 Railway Stakes over the mile at Ascot and was last seen running seventh to Watermans Bay in the Group 3 A.J. Scahill Stakes (1400m) on December 6.
Aeronautical carries 58.5kg on Thursday, half a kilo more than Amorino on 58kg, with the Standish Handicap weights led by the Lee & Anthony Freedman-trained Reparations on 59kg.
Exceed And Excel six-year-old Reparations returns off a two month break, before which he had a one-hit spring campaign to win the Listed MSS Security Stakes (1200m) at Flemington on Melbourne Cup Day.
A talented sprinter he’s got a 50% strike rate over the 1200m with four wins from eight starts over the distance, and his first-up record (6-2-0-0) is also fair.
The next heaviest weighted nominations on 57.5kg each are then the Robbie Laing-trained Lord Of The Sky and Jarrod McLean’s Blackie.
Promising four-year-old Danrich stallion Lord Of The sky, winner of the Group 3 Sir John Monash Stakes (1100m) at Caulfield in the winter, comes off a string of good runs for the year.
His most recent effort was at Sandown on Boxing Day when under two lengths away second behind Tried And Tired in the Listed Christmas Stakes (1200m), an effort his Cranbourne-based trainer hopes he can go one better than this week.
Veteran seven-year-old Blackie meanwhile hasn’t raced since back-to-back fifths at Moonee Valley in August and is back up in class for this first-up assignment.
Other notable Standish Handicap hopefuls for the January 1 event include last start Listed City Of Marion Stakes winner at Morphettville from the start of the month Whitlam over from Adelaide, the Peter Moody-trained Thermal Current, Robbie Griffiths’ Group 2 performer The Quarterback and Laing’s other runner Boomwaa coming off a Moonee Valley win from last Saturday.
See below for the full Standish Handicap 2014 nominations and weights, the field due out shortly.
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2015 Standish Handicap Nominations
Flemington Racecourse – 01/01/2015
|1||REPARATIONS||Lee & Anthony Freedman||1||59kg||102|
|4||LORD OF THE SKY||Robbie Laing||4||57.5kg||99|
|5||BLACKIE (NZ)||Jarrod McLean||5||57.5kg||99|
|7||OFFICE BEARER||Peter G Moody||7||55kg||94|
|9||THE THIEF||Stephen Brown||9||54kg||90|
|11||THERMAL CURRENT||Peter G Moody||11||54kg||89|
|12||FUTURE SOLUTION||Kane Harris||12||54kg||86|
|13||THE QUARTERBACK||Robbie Griffiths||13||54kg||85|
|14||MISTER MILTON||Norman Waymouth||14||54kg||84|
|18||SEARCH SQUAD (NZ)||Doug Harrison||18||54kg||76|
|19||SCARLET BILLOWS||Darren Weir||19||54kg||73|