A final field of 12 fillies and mares was taken for the Group 2 Emancipation Stakes (1500m) on Wednesday morning but Dear Demi has already been scratched from the race after drawing the outside gate. The Clarry Conners-trained filly will now run in the Group 3 Neville Sellwood Stakes (2000m) instead.
Headlining the Emancipation Stakes field is the Chris Waller-trained Catkins, who will jump from barrier 10 with champion hoop James McDonald to ride.
Catkins is the defending champion of the race after winning the 2014 edition with ease, and is well tipped to do it again thanks to her recent form. The popular grey mare has already successful defended her title in one race this autumn, putting her nose down on the line to win the Group 2 Breeders Classic (1200m) first-up on February 7.
The five-year-old followed it up with a win in the Group 2 Millie Fox Stakes (1300m) two weeks later, picking off all the challengers to score in the final 25 metres by half a length. It’s hard to imagine that Catkins is without a win at the highest level of racing despite her success but the mare has been luckless in that regard. It continued on March 7 when she missed out on the Group 1 Canterbury Stakes (1300m) by half a length.
Catkins was the $1.40 odds-on favourite to win the Emancipation Stakes last year, leaving barrier five beautifully to lead with ease. She controlled the race after easing with one punching up underneath her before striding to the front at the 400m. She was the last horse off the bit and staved them off fairly easily to win by one and a half lengths. The mare will be five gates out this year but expect her to be an early favourite once again.
Kris Lees will deliver a dual-pronged attack on the 2015 Emancipation Stakes after accepting with both Hera and Scorpio Queen.
Four-year-old Hera, who has finished outside the placings in all three of her starts this campaign, will jump from barrier nine with Damien Browne as jockey while six-year-old Scorpio Queen was runner-up in the Group 3 Newcastle Newmarket Handicap (1400m) last Wednesday. The mare will jump from barrier seven with Christian Reith.
Peter & Paul Snowden are also set to double their chances at winning the Emancipation Stakes after accepting with Gypsy Diamond and Mahara.
Both mares have drawn ideally with four-year-old Gypsy Diamond enjoying the inside jump from barrier one while Group 3 Maybe Mahal Stakes (1400m) Mahara will be two gates out in barrier three.
Other horses set to run in the 2015 Emancipation Stakes include Gerald Ryan’s Peggy Jean, Group 3 Tressady Stakes (1400m) winner Madam Gangster, Kevin Moses’ My Sabeel, and Group 1 Flight Stakes (1600m) minor placer Thinking Of You.
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2015 Emancipation Stakes Field & Barrier Draw
|No||Last 10||Horse||Trainer||Jockey||Barrier||Weight||Hcp Rating|
|1||4x1233x112||CATKINS||Chris Waller||James McDonald||10||57kg||110|
|2||08x5217x50||DEAR DEMI||Clarry Conners||–||12||57kg||107|
|3||480x01x805||HERA (NZ)||Kris Lees||Damian Browne||9||57kg||95|
|4||215x57x406||PEGGY JEAN||Gerald Ryan||Tommy Berry||8||57kg||92|
|5||2x50950x34||GYPSY DIAMOND||Peter & Paul Snowden||Sam Clipperton||1||56kg||97|
|6||24x511x530||MAHARA||Peter & Paul Snowden||Blake Shinn||3||55kg||97|
|7||277x2111x1||MADAM GANGSTER||Lee & Shannon Hope||Craig Williams||6||55kg||90|
|8||152355×304||MY SABEEL (NZ)||Kevin Moses||Tim Clark||2||55kg||89|
|9||x97x654x92||SCORPIO QUEEN||Kris Lees||Christian Reith||7||54kg||93|
|10||950x2123x6||AMANPOUR||Gai Waterhouse||Kerrin McEvoy||11||54kg||88|
|11||73762x77x3||ANY DAY WILL DO||David Vandyke||Ms Kathy O’Hara||5||54kg||84|
|12||113×65||THINKING OF YOU (NZ)||Peter G Moody||Brenton Avdulla||4||53kg||76|