A star studded line-up of The Championships-bound gallopers is nominated for the Apollo Stakes 2015 at Royal Randwick this weekend including Lucia Valentina who will reunite with top hoop Hugh Bowman.
Bowman is eager to get back in the saddle of the Kris Lees-trained Savabeel mare, the four-year-old one of a bumper 18 early entries taken for this year’s $250,000 Group 2 Apollo Stakes (1400m).
The multiple Group 1 winning four-year-old was last seen in the winners’ stall for her Turnbull Stakes victory over 2000m at Flemington on October 4 after which she ran third to the ill-fated Japanese raider Admire Rakti in the Caulfield Cup.
Her latest run was a failed 13th to Protectionist in the Melbourne Cup on the first Tuesday of November where she flopped over the 3200m.
She’s set to thrive over less distance this Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival however with her major target being the $4 million Group 1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) back at Randwick on April 11.
In the all-in Queen Elizabeth Stakes odds at Ladbrokes.com.au, led by Japan’s To The World ($5) and set to firm following the nominations closing today, Lucia Valentina pays $13.
Her first-up record is strong with two wins and a third from three resuming runs, something Bowman is hoping he can add to aboard Lucia Valentina when he partners with her for the first time since a third in the Australian Oaks last April.
Lucia Valentina is looking to become the seventh mare in the past 15 years to win the weight-for-age Apollo Stakes and was ultra-impressive in her barrier trial at Newcastle last week, an effort that caught Bowman’s eye especially.
“She trialled really well,” Bowman said. “I was very impressed with her, she feels in great order.”
The other top mare in the Apollo Stakes nominations is the Roger James-trained Kiwi superstar Silent Achiever.
James is still looking at a hoop for his six-year-old who heads towards the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in France this October.
Silent Achiever hasn’t won a race since her stellar effort in The BMW last autumn that followed her narrow Ranvet Stakes success a fortnight earlier.
She was on fire this time last year however when resuming with a win at home at Ellerslie, something the Cambridge-based James hopes she can repeat down under heading into the carnival.
No Group Sydney race would be complete these days without a notable contingent from four-time premiership winning horseman Chris Waller, and that’s certainly the case in the Apollo.
Waller has an imposing nine entries with:
- Beaten Up
- He’s Your Man
One of his headliners looks to be French import He’s Your Man, the Cape Cross six-year-old last seen running a devastatingly close second to Happy Trails in the Group 1 Mackinnon Stakes (2000m) from Derby Day in early November at Flemington.
Before that he won the Group 1 Epsom Handicap (1600m) over the Randwick mile, a track he returns to for the Apollo Stakes first-up with Blake Shinn riding on the back of a distant second behind runaway trial winner Red Excitement over 1030m at Rosehill on February 3.
Red Excitement won that hit-out by a blistering 13.3 lengths at the start of the month and is also down to resume in the Apollo Stakes, the Gerald Ryan-trained Excites gelding having won his past five straight.
Waller meanwhile has also confirmed a jockey for Hawkspur, with Jim Cassidy making his comeback on the Purrealist five-year-old.
Also likely to represent Waller in the Apollo Stakes field are Expressway Stakes winner Weary, Group 1 winning Bernardini gelding Boban, eight-year-old Bagman and Doomben Cup champ Beaten Up.
Also of note is Godolphin’s classy entrant Contributer for John O’Shea having just his third start down under and Peter & Paul Snowden’s Newcastle Cup winner Disclaimer.
See below for the full Apollo Stakes 2015 nominations, the final field out on Wednesday.
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2015 Apollo Stakes Nominations
Royal Randwick – 14/02/2015
|2||BEATEN UP (GB)||Chris Waller||110|
|4||CONTRIBUTER (IRE)||John O’Shea||104|
|5||DIAMOND DRILLE||Gai Waterhouse||106|
|6||DISCLAIMER (GB)||Peter & Paul Snowden||97|
|7||FORETELLER (GB)||Chris Waller||113|
|9||HE’S YOUR MAN (FR)||Chris Waller||110|
|10||JUNOOB (GB)||Chris Waller||108|
|11||LUCIA VALENTINA (NZ)||Kris Lees||111|
|13||NINTH LEGION||Michael, Wayne & John Hawkes||105|
|14||OPINION (IRE)||Chris Waller||104|
|16||RED EXCITEMENT||Gerald Ryan||103|
|17||SILENT ACHIEVER (NZ)||Roger James||116|
|18||WEARY (FR)||Chris Waller||108|