The Blue Diamond Stakes 2015 campaigns for a number of promising juveniles are kicking off with trials including that of Of The Brave who caught the eye at Sandown on Tuesday morning in his jumpout.
The headline runner at the Sportingbet Park Sandown heats heading towards the $1 million Group 1 Blue Diamond Stakes (1200m) at Caulfield Racecourse on February 28 was of course the Robert Smerdon-trained Fontiton.
A two-year-old daughter of Turffontein, the filly won the Inglis Banner at Moonee Valley by six lengths on debut and was impressive again during her soft 800m trial.
Fontiton narrowly leads the all-in Blue Diamond Stakes odds at Ladbrokes.com.au paying $4.80 to win just ahead of the Mick Price-trained Moonee Valley winning Not A Single Doubt filly Secret Agenda at $5.
A little further down the Blue Diamond Stakes betting markets punters can find the Mark Riley-trained Of The Brave at $21.
The Starspangledbanner colt is another winner on debut from the spring with the Mornington-based Riley running him in black-type company right from the get-go.
Of The Brave ran a nice trial to win over 800m at Cranbourne in September showing good tactical speed from a wide gate before his first-up run at Caulfield on October 11 in the Listed Inglis Debutant Stakes (100m).
In that he was ridden by Stephen Baster and kicked away well into the straight, toughing it out after a nice start from the inside alley to draw away and beat home Miss Idyllic by one and three-quarter lengths.
He was impressive again with an 800m trial win on Tuesday morning, giving Riley the confidence he needs heading into the youngster’s second preparation.
It was a decisive win that impressed Baster, retaining his association with the smart colt who was put straight into the paddock after his Inglis Debutant win to prepare for the Blue Diamond.
“He went super. He knuckled at the start, but he took over at the 200m and went to the line hard. He is a speedy little thing and will improve,” Baster told the Herald Sun.
Fontiton meanwhile was only really run over 600m, as per Smerdon’s instructions, and stayed in touch with the other runners over the closing 200m hitting the line well without being pushed by jockey Mark Zahra.
“She has not had a lot of time out so she may be more forward than I thought,” Smerdon said.
“We will see how she pulls up and decide if she runs in the Prelude (sic) here on Australia Day or waits for the 1100m of the Preview (sic) a fortnight later.”
Smerdon mixed up the Blue Diamond lead-ups however with the $120,000 Listed Previews running at Sandown on January 26 followed by the $150,000 Group 3 Preludes at Caulfield on CF Orr Stakes Day, February 14.
“I like the idea of the Prelude because it gives you ideal space between runs leading into the Diamond,” he continued.
“She has come back well and she simply pushed herself to the line without any encouragement from the jockey. On face value it was a nice effort.”
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