Sydney’s leading trainer Chris Waller plays a strong hand in Saturday’s Canterbury Stakes 2015 at Randwick Racecourse preparing three of the nine final acceptors in the autumn showdown.
Due to jump as Race 7 at 4:10pm (AEDT) as the major support race on Randwick Guineas Day, this year’s $500,000 Group 1 Canterbury Stakes (1300m) is led by Waller’s dual Doncaster Mile champion Sacred Falls.
All but two of the horses in the field are running first-up on the weekend, including O’Reilly stallion Sacred Falls in gate eight for his resuming run.
His last start produced a disappointing 11th to Adelaide in the Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m), but that came off another good season including his Group 1 George Main Stakes (1600m) win at Randwick.
He has had two Randwick trials leading up to his return for two fourth place finishes, the $4.67 million earner after his third first-up win at his seventh attempt.
Waller’s two other hopes at a maiden Canterbury Stakes victory are then smart mares Royal Descent and Catkins drawn in barriers six and three respectively.
Mares have won three of the past four editions of the race with the Gai Waterhouse-trained More Joyous (2011, 2012) and Appearance (2014) last Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival.
Royal Descent is a five-year-old daughter of Redoute’s Choice who is a perennial placegetter.
During the spring she finished second four times on the trot including behind Sacred Falls in the George Main Stakes and another of her stablemates He’s Your Man in the Group 1 Epsom Handicap (1600m) also over the Randwick mile.
She hasn’t raced since finishing one worse than Sacred Falls when 12th in the Cox Plate back on October 25, but has a nice first-up record of a win and two seconds from four resuming runs.
Catkins meanwhile is one of the two in the Canterbury Stakes field to boast a fitness edge having had two previous runs this time in.
Jim Cassidy rides the consistent Dubawi five-year-old who won back-to-back Rosehill races last month.
Third to Bonaria in the Group 1 Myer Classic (1600m) last November to see out her spring, the striking grey won the Group 2 Breeders Classic (1200m) first-up before her Group 2 Millie Fox Stakes (1300m) win on February 21.
She is undefeated over 1300m, and performs on all tracks but is especially good on Slow – Heavy going.
The other horse not resuming on Saturday is fellow mare Cosmic Endeavour, the Gai Waterhouse-trained Northern Meteor four-year-old third-up for the season.
Winner of three on the trot during winter last year, including the Group 1 Tattersall’s Tiara (1400m) in Brisbane, Cosmic Endeavour returned with a first-up fourth in the Group 3 Triscay Stakes (1200M) at Randwick on February 14.
Her latest start was then an improved second behind Danesiri in the Group 3 Guy Walter Stakes (1400m) last Saturday at Warwick Farm putting her on the short seven-day turnaround into the Canterbury.
There are plenty of other talented Group 1 winners in the mix including the David Hayes & Tom Dabernig-trained Criterion and Tiger Tees for Joe Pride.
Lindsay Park’s recent acquisition Criterion won the Rosehill Guineas – Australian Derby double as a three-year-old last autumn for former trainer David Payne.
His first run for Hayes & Dabernig was then in the Group 1 Hong Kong Cup (2000m) in December when taken overseas for a brave third to Designs On Rome as a 40/1 outsider.
He returns to Australian racing in the Canterbury Stakes with Hugh Bowman also back aboard, the duo drawn in barrier four with Criterion after his first win over 1300m.
Seven-year-old Tiger Tees meanwhile won the Group 1 The Galaxy (1100m) 12 months ago and was strong in both the TJ Smith Stakes and All Aged Stakes at Randwick last April when fourth and third respectively.
In the spring he won the Group 3 Aurie’s Star Handicap (1200m) first-up at Flemington and the Group 2 Warwick Stakes (1400m) back at Randwick before a second to Lucia Valentina last start on in early September in the Group 2 Tramway Stakes (1400m).
He has won five from nine first up, as well as two seconds when resuming, so looks a strong chance again here in an open field.
Rounding out the field are the Anthony Cummings-trained Fontelina racing for the first time since a second to Spirit Of Boom in the William Reid Stakes last March, four-year-old Crystal Mile winner Hooked and Doomben Cup runner-up Leebaz for Team Hawkes.
See below for the full Canterbury Stakes 2015 field, barriers and jockeys.
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2015 Canterbury Stakes Final Field & Barrier Draw
Randwick Race 7 (4:10pm) – 07/03/2015
|#||Form (Last 10)||Horse||Trainer||Jockey||Br.||Wgt.||Hcp. Rating|
|1||412x44140x||SACRED FALLS (NZ)||Chris Waller||Zac Purton||8||59kg||116|
|2||1x3722753x||CRITERION (NZ)||David Hayes & Tom Dabernig||Hugh Bowman||4||59kg||112|
|3||91437x112x||TIGER TEES (NZ)||Joseph Pride||Christian Reith||9||59kg||112|
|4||0x9214x02x||FONTELINA||Anthony Cummings||Brenton Avdulla||7||59kg||108|
|5||34x471315x||HOOKED||John P Thompson||Blake Shinn||2||59kg||104|
|6||x11212x84x||LEEBAZ (NZ)||Michael, Wayne & John Hawkes||Tommy Berry||5||59kg||101|
|7||525x22220x||ROYAL DESCENT||Chris Waller||Kerrin McEvoy||6||57kg||112|
|8||x4x1233x11||CATKINS||Chris Waller||Jim Cassidy||3||57kg||110|
|9||4213111×42||COSMIC ENDEAVOUR||Gai Waterhouse||James McDonald||1||57kg||108|