Connections of Blue Diamond Prelude winner Of The Brave face a tense weight over whether the smart colt will be scratched from the 2015 Blue Diamond Stakes field with trainer Mark Riley embroiled in the cobalt saga.
Racing Victoria stewards may be forced to remove the son of Starspangledbanner from the 15-starter field for this Saturday’s $1 million Group 1 Blue Diamond Stakes (1200m) after the Mornington-based Riley was disqualified from training for three years.
The ban was enforced by the Racing Appeals and Disciplinary Board on Monday and could have a notable effect on this year’s Blue Diamond Stakes if Of The Brave is not moved into the care of another trainer by 10am (AEDT) this morning.
Stewards made the task of finding a new trainer that much tougher for the owners after rejecting the application of Riley’s offside, registered trainer Logan McGill to take over the preparation of Of The Brave and stablemate, Group 2 Autumn Classic (1800m) hopeful Lucky Paddy.
Riley’s disqualification officially comes into place on Monday March 3, however under the laws he is not allowed to have a starter under his name between now and then unless there is an intervention from the VCAT.
Undefeated Of The Brave has won both of his career starts to date having taken out the Listed Debutant Stakes (1000m) at Caulfield last October before coming back on February 14 and holding off Pride Of Dubai by a nose in the Group 3 Blue Diamond Prelude (C&G) over 1100m at the same track.
He is now accepted to shoot for his third straight Caulfield win and is one of the top fancies in the current Blue Diamond Stakes odds at Ladbrokes.com.au.
The markets are firmly led by Robert Smerdon’s three-time winning filly Fontiton ($2.40) who has barrier one and her regular rider Mark Zahra staying on.
Next best in Blue Diamond Stakes betting is the Peter & Paul Snowden-trained C&G Prelude runner-up Pride Of Dubai ($5.50) looking to make the $55,000 late entry paid by connections worth the investment.
Earlier in the week Of The Brave sat as the only other single figure hope at $9 but has since eased out to $10, an equal price with BD C&G Prelude third placed Sampeah, and the Michael, Wayne & John Hawkes-trained Lake Geneva.
Stay tuned to Races.com.au on all the latest Blue Diamond Stakes field and betting updates.
In the meantime get behind your favourites for the Caulfield classic online now at Ladbrokes.com.au who will be offering Best Tote or SP + 20% on your winnings for the Blue Diamond this weekend!