Jockey Chad Schofield won’t be surprised if his mount in Saturday’s Blue Diamond Stakes 2015 Sampeah takes out the trophy despite labelling rival Fontiton as the better two-year-old.
There are 15 youngsters in the field for this year’s $1 million Group 1 Blue Diamond Stakes (1200m) at Caulfield Racecourse, running as Race 8 at 5:50pm (AEDT), with the undefeated Robert Smerdon-trained filly Fontiton the firming $2.30 favourite.
The daughter of Turffontein opened at $2.45 in the Blue Diamond Stakes odds at Ladbrokes.com.au but has been well backed after coming up with the inside barrier one draw for jockey Mark Zahra.
She debuted with a six length win in the Inglis Banner before taking out the Blue Diamond Fillies Preview and Prelude races this Melbourne Autumn Racing Carnival.
Sampeah meanwhile also comes via a run in one of the two editions of the Blue Diamond Prelude having run third in the colts and geldings’ edition on February 14.
Fifteen of the past 30 Blue Diamond Stakes winners graduated from one of the Prelude races including 10 to have completed the double.
On debut the John O’Shea-trained, Godolphin-owned Exceed And Excel colt Sampeah won over 1100m at Rosehill in late November.
He returned for his maiden Melbourne run in the Group 3 Prelude over 1100m at Caulfield with Schofield guiding him into third under three lengths off the Mark Riley-trained winner Of The Brave.
Of The Brave backs up in Saturday’s Group 1 at an easing quote of $12, out from $9, to complete the double and become the first male Blue Diamond Stakes winner since Sepoy (2011).
Sepoy was prepared by Peter Snowden who also won last year’s race with smart filly Earthquake under the Darley banner.
He is now out on his own training in partnership with his son Paul and is represented in Saturday’s classic by Blue Diamond (C&G) Prelude runner-up Pride Of Dubai.
Jumping from barrier five, which is the equal most successful Blue Diamond Stakes barrier since 1983 along with barrier four having produced four winners, Street Cry colt Pride Of Dubai was a $55,000 late entry for the race having been beaten a nose in the Prelude.
Schofield meanwhile got a lovely feel off third past the post in that lead-up Sampeah, who has work to do on Saturday after drawing wide in barrier 12 but gets the blinkers on to help sharpen him up.
“He’s going to wear blinkers on Saturday and hopefully that’ll sharpen him up and enable him to hold a spot closer to the speed,” Schofield said.
“I was happy to draw wide, because he’s going to have more time to find his feet. The other day we drew four and he jumped well, but then he got a little bit of a squeeze and got sandwiched up and back he went.
“Drawn wide, that will let him cruise across and be happy and comfortable. He’s a big colt and he’ll appreciate a bit of room.”
The last horse to win the Blue Diamond from gate 12 was Nadeem (2006), one of jockey Dwayne Dunn’s four consecutive winners in the race form 2005 – 2008.
Dunn shoots for a record breaking fifth Blue Diamond Stakes victory this year riding lightly-raced filly Lake Geneva ($11) from barrier 11.
Despite being confident Sampeah is the “best horse in the race” this weekend, Schofield knows Fontiton coming off three wins is still the one to beat in the Blue Diamond.
“I think Sampeah is the best horse in the race, but I think Fontiton is the better two-year-old,” Schofield said.
“He (Sampeah) is a very good horse. He gave me that feel in the Prelude and it wouldn’t surprise me if he comes out and wins.”
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