TJ Smith Stakes-bound sprinter Deep Field from the Hawkes Racing stable leads the Challenge Stakes 2015 nominations for the Randwick Guineas Day support act in Sydney on Saturday.
The Northern Meteor four-year-old is one of 15 hopefuls nominated for this weekend’s $400,000 Group 2 Challenge Stakes (1000m) at Royal Randwick where Team Hawkes have a total of two entries.
Deep Field has won five of his six career starts to date including the Group 2 Salinger Stakes (1000m) down the Flemington straight on Derby Day last November.
He returned to racing as the short-priced favourite in the Group 1 Lightning Stakes (1000m) back at Flemington on February 21 but got rolled when beaten over three lengths by the runaway winner Lankan Rupee.
The promising galloper is then out to atone second-up with a Challenge Stakes win with his trainers still deciding whether to take him to the lucrative $2.5 million Group 1 TJ Smith Stakes (1200m) back at the track on April 4 during The Championships.
Futures TJ Smith Stakes betting at Ladbrokes.com.au have Deep Field’s stablemate Chautauqua ($4.60) and Joe Pride’s Darley Classic winner Terravista sitting top of the markets.
Deep Field meanwhile isn’t far behind at a current quote of $10, equal with Lightning Stakes runner-up Brazen Beau for Chris Waller.
The fellow Hawkes-trained Mossfun is also among the Challenge Stakes nominations for Saturday, the three-year-old Golden Slipper winning filly coming off a first-up sixth in the Group 2 Light Fingers Stakes (1200m) from February 14.
Mossfun is a $21 TJ Smith Stakes chance with the next best in betting nominated for the Challenge Stakes being fellow three-year-old Rubick at the same price.
Gerald Ryan’s Encosta De Lago colt has won three from five to date including the Group 2 Schillaci Stakes (1000m) during the spring when returning off a fourth to Earthquake in last autumn’s Blue Diamond Stakes.
He went on to run a disappointing 12th to Brazen Beau in the Group 1 Coolmore Stud Stakes (1200m) on Derby Day but returns here and is undefeated first-up with two previous wins.
One of the few Challenge Stakes hopefuls not resuming here, one of the top chances is the Peter Moody-trained Flamberge.
The Exceed And Excel five-year-old ran a nice first-up second to Chautauqua in the Group 2 Rubiton Stakes (1100m) at Caulfield a fortnight ago before being scratched from Saturday’s Group 1 Oakleigh Plate over the same track and distance last Saturday.
Mucus was found on the horse’s throat last week but it was only a minor setback and he should be right to race again this weekend, maybe in Sydney.
Other notable Challenge Stakes hopes include Avoid Lightning who is also nominated for the $500,000 Group 1 Canterbury Stakes (1300m) at the meeting, Manikato Stakes third placed Famous Seamus, former Blue Diamond Stakes winner Miracles Of Life, and the Joe Pride-trained trio of Rain Affair, Target In Sight and Tiger Tees.
Of the trio Dubawi seven-year-old Tiger Tees looks Pride’s top chance, the veteran last seen running second to top mare Lucia Valentina in the Group 2 Tramway Stakes (1400m) at Randwick in early September last year.
See below for the full Challenge Stakes 2015 nominations, the final field out on Wednesday.
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2015 Challenge Stakes Nominations
Royal Randwick – 07/03/2015
|1||AVOID LIGHTNING||Les Bridge||108|
|2||DEEP FIELD||Michael, Wayne & John Hawkes||105|
|3||FAMOUS SEAMUS (NZ)||Noel Mayfield-Smith||110|
|4||FLAMBERGE||Peter G Moody||103|
|6||MIRACLES OF LIFE||Peter & Paul Snowden||105|
|7||MOSSFUN||Michael, Wayne & John Hawkes||105|
|8||NUCLEAR CLASS||Tas Morton||89|
|9||RAIN AFFAIR||Joseph Pride||105|
|11||SOLDI DOMANI||Bryan Dais||75|
|12||TARGET IN SIGHT||Joseph Pride||96|
|13||TIGER TEES (NZ)||Joseph Pride||112|
|14||VA PENSIERO||Jason Coyle||95|
|15||VILLA VERDE||Anthony Cummings||104|