This Saturday in Sydney a host of Doncaster Mile hopefuls will face off in the Ajax Stakes 2015 at Rosehill Racecourse including the Michael, Wayne & John Hawkes-trained top weight Ninth Legion.
Run under handicap conditions, the $175,000, Group 2 APN Outdoor Ajax Stakes (1500m) rounds out the Coolmore Classic Day action as Race 9 at 5:30pm (AEDT).
A final field of 11 is engaged in the race, including a number of livewire chances for the $3 million Group 1 Doncaster Mile (1600m) at Royal Randwick on Day 1 of The Championships, April 4.
Included in that group is the Team Hawkes-trained Ninth Legion drawn on the rails for Saturday with Tommy Berry riding from barrier one.
Last seen in the winner’s stall on January 24 when taking out the Listed Carrington Stakes (1400m) at Randwick, Ninth Legion went on to run second behind Contributer in the Group 2 Apollo Stakes over the same track and distance before his seventh to the same JohnO’Shea-trained import in the Group 1 Chipping Norton Stakes (1600m) at Warwick Farm last time out.
Fourth to He’s Your Man in last October’s Group 1 Epsom Handicap (1600m), Ninth Legion carries the 59kg top weight on Saturday as he heads towards a Doncaster run next month.
In the latest Doncaster Mile betting odds at Ladbrokes.com.au he pays $26, the same price as three of his Ajax Stakes rivals this weekend.
The other $26 Doncaster hopes running on the weekend are Rudy, Pornichet and San Diego.
All are looking to be the first horse since Grand Armee (2003) to complete the Ajax Stakes – Doncaster Mile double in the same year.
The consistent Helen Page-trained Red Dazzler four-year-old Rudy is after his third win from his past four starts following late spring – early summer wins in the Listed Recognition Stakes (1630m) at Doomben and the Group 2 Villiers Stakes (1600m) at Randwick.
His latest first-up effort was on February 28 at Warwick Farm in the Group 3 Liverpool City Cup (1300m) when a brave second behind the imported It’s Somewhat on debut down under.
He is yet to race over exactly 1500m and has never had a run at Rosehill but is in the right form for a big run from barrier nine for apprentice Luke Tarrant on 57.5kg.
Pornichet is on half a kilo less with 57kg and jumps one on Rudy’s outside from gate 10 for top trainer Gai Waterhouse.
The Vespone stallion has had three runs down under since coming from overseas last spring, his latest a disappointing first-up ninth in the Liverpool City Cup.
San Diego meanwhile looks an excellent lightweight chance in the Ajax sneaking in on the 53kg minimum.
The John O’Shea-trained Exceed And Excel four-year-old should get a gun run from barrier two with Tim Clark riding, the gelding coming off a first-up win in easier company at the track over 1350m on February 21.
Other notable Ajax Stakes hopefuls include the Gerald Ryan-trained stakes winner Red Excitement and Liverpool City Cup fourth placed Malavio who ran eighth in the Doncaster Mile behind Sacred Falls last Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival.
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2015 Ajax Stake Stakes Final Field & Barrier Draw
Rosehill Race 9 (5:30pm) – 14/03/2015
|#||Form (Last 10)||Horse||Trainer||Jockey||Br.||Wgt.||Hcp. Rating|
|1||5x7334x127||NINTH LEGION||Michael, Wayne & John Hawkes||Tommy Berry||1||59kg||105|
|2||5215565×47||DESTINY’S KISS||Joseph Pride||Glyn Schofield||5||57.5kg||102|
|3||530x2211x2||RUDY||Helen Page||Luke Tarrant (a)||9||57.5kg||102|
|4||15139x41x9||PORNICHET (FR)||Gai Waterhouse||Blake Shinn||10||57kg||101|
|5||x23111x118||RED EXCITEMENT||Gerald Ryan||Brenton Avdulla||6||57kg||101|
|6||127x1080x5||AOMEN (IRE)||Anthony Cummings||Christian Reith||8||56.5kg||100|
|7||x53480x504||MALAVIO||Steve Englebrecht||Jason Collett||11||56.5kg||100|
|8||x751221122||BURBERO (NZ)||Bjorn Baker||Brodie Loy (a)||7||56kg||99|
|9||3030x540x0||SLOW PACE (USA)||Kris Lees||Kerrin McEvoy||4||56kg||99|
|10||1x3620x8x1||SAN DIEGO||John O’Shea||Tim Clark||2||53kg||82|
|11||x527012x35||SPY DECODER (NZ)||Anthony Cummings||Sam Clipperton||3||53kg||80|