A below capacity line-up of 15 two-year-olds make up the official Blue Diamond Stakes 2015 field of final acceptors released by Racing Victoria this morning.
Running at Caulfield Racecourse as one of three Group 1s on the Melbourne Autumn Racing Carnival card, this year’s $1 million Group 1 Blue Diamond Stakes (1200m) has 15 youngsters in the mix led by Fontiton.
She heads an eight-strong female contingent in Victoria’s richest autumn race for two-year-olds, the fillies dominant again having won the past three editions.
Last year the Peter Snowden-trained Earthquake (2014) followed the trend set by Miracles Of Life (2013) and Samaready (2012), and now the bookmakers have the Robert Smerdon-trained Fontiton installed as favourite to continue the hot streak of Blue Diamond winning fillies.
Jockey Mark Zahra stays on the daughter of Turffontein has won all three of her race starts to date, including the Blue Diamond Fillies Preview & Prelude, with Zahra aboard for every run.
Smerdon has also accepted for stablemate Thurlow with Craig Williams to ride the Sebring filly who has won two of her three starts.
She debuted when runner-up in a Group 3 on Melbourne Cup Day at Flemington before winning the Listed Merson Cooper Stakes (1000m) at Sandown in mid-November.
Thurlow returned on February 7 back at Sandown and was successful again, this time defeating Haybah to win the Group 3 Chairman’s Stakes (1000m).
Saturday however sees her race over further than 1000m for the first time, and how she handles the 1200m will be key to whether she can keep up with her better fancied stablemate.
The two fillies that ran second and third behind Fontiton in the Group 3 Blue Diamond Prelude (1100m) at Caulfield on February 14 are both also accepted in the final field for the Group 1 Grand Final.
Runner-up Miss Gidget is prepared at Cranbourne by Colin & Cindy Alderson, the Gonski filly also runner-up to Thurlow in the Merson Cooper on debut.
Flamboyant Lass meanwhile is prepared by five-time Golden Slipper winning trainer Gai Waterhouse who, despite her ace record in that Sydney classic, is yet to win a Blue Diamond.
The Stratum filly won two back at Randwick over 1000m before her Melbourne debut in the Fillies Prelude running two and a half lengths away third to Saturday’s hot favourite after jumping from a wide barrier 10 of 14 draw with Glen Boss, who stays on this weekend, in the saddle.
The other fillies looking for a Blue Diamond Stakes win this year are then Fastnet Rock filly Lake Geneva for Team Hawkes who ran second to Fireworks on debut at Rosehill in the Group 3 Widden Stakes (1100m) in late January; and the David Hayes & Tom Dabernig-trained stablemates Claudia Jean, Reemah and BD Prelude fourth placed Air Apparent.
Following Fontiton in Blue Diamond Stakes betting ahead of Saturday meanwhile is late entry Pride Of Dubai for Peter & Paul Snowden.
Peter Snowden, former head trainer of Godolphin, won the race last year with Earthquake and in 2011 with star colt Sepoy but is now out on his own preparing horses with his son Paul.
Connections paid the $55,000 late entry for the Street Cry colt yesterday and the bookmakers are taking no chances after Pride Of Dubai caught the eye running a nostril-flare away second in the Group 3 Blue Diamond Colts & Geldings Prelude (1100m) a fortnight ago.
Winner of the male’s Prelude, Of The Brave, and third past the post Sampeah are also both in the final field for this weekend’s rematch.
The Mark Riley-trained Starspangledbanner colt Of The Brave has Stephen Baster staying on for a third time.
The horse is undefeated having won the Listed Debutant Stakes (1000m) at Caulfield back in October before his successful return in the Prelude.
He’s undefeated then and both his wins have been at Caulfield Racecourse.
He has also won both of his Cranbourne trials and so is yet to taste defeat both under race conditions and in hit-outs.
John O’Shea prepares Exceed And Excel colt Sampeah then for last year’s winning connections at Godolphin, the Sydney raider having won on debut at Rosehill last year before his third in the Prelude last time out.
Rounding out the field are then the Tony McEvoy-trained stablemates Stoker who won the Inglis 2YO Premier and late entry Manhattan Blues who was runner-up in the same race, Group 3 winner from the spring Prompt Return for Danny O’Brien and the other O’Shea-trained hope Bantam.
The 2015 Blue Diamond Stakes barrier draw is conducted this morning at 11am (local time) and will be published right here at Races.com.au.
Before then make sure you’re ready to back your favourites in the weekend’s major by opening an account online with Ladbrokes.com.au – home of the $250 bonus free bets offer!
2015 Blue Diamond Stakes Final Field
Caulfield Racecourse – 28/02/2015
|1||231||STOKER||Tony McEvoy||Damien Oliver||56.5kg|
|2||1×1||OF THE BRAVE||Mark Riley||Stephen Baster||56.5kg|
|3||112×5||PROMPT RETURN||Danny O’Brien||James Winks||56.5kg|
|4||162||MANHATTAN BLUES||Tony McEvoy||Nicholas Hall||56.5kg|
|5||1×3||SAMPEAH||John O’Shea||Chad Schofield||56.5kg|
|6||51×7||BANTAM S||John O’Shea||Jamie Mott||56.5kg|
|7||32||PRIDE OF DUBAI||Peter & Paul Snowden||Damian Browne||56.5kg|
|8||1×11||FONTITON||Robert Smerdon||Mark Zahra||54.5kg|
|9||21×1||THURLOW||Robert Smerdon||Craig Williams||54.5kg|
|10||3×13||FLAMBOYANT LASS||Gai Waterhouse||Glen Boss||54.5kg|
|11||24×2||MISS GIDGET||Colin & Cindy Alderson||Ben Melham||54.5kg|
|12||17||CLAUDIA JEAN||David Hayes & Tom Dabernig||Michael Walker||54.5kg|
|13||2||LAKE GENEVA||Michael, Wayne & John Hawkes||Dwayne Dunn||54.5kg|
|14||224||AIR APPARENT||David Hayes & Tom Dabernig||Damian Lane||54.5kg|
|15||8×2||REEMAH||David Hayes & Tom Dabernig||Chris Symons||54.5kg|