A boost in numbers has seen the Blue Diamond Stakes 2016 nominations attract 12% more early entries for next year’s Melbourne Autumn Racing Carnival than this time last season.
The premier race for two-year-olds conducted in Victoria each autumn, the $1 million Group 1 Blue Diamond Stakes (1200m) runs at Caulfield Racecourse on February 27 next year and there are officially 1343 juveniles in the mix.
Connections paid the $330 nomination fee this week to put their youngsters in the mix for the classic, Godolphin heading the entries numbers-wise with 95 entries.
Previously conducted under the Darley banner in Australia, the global racing powerhouse have won three editions of the million dollar feature since 2011 with Sepoy (2011), Earthquake (2014) and this year going back-to-back with Pride Of Dubai (2015).
All three of those Blue Diamond winners were trained by Peter Snowden who has broken away from the stable to train in partnership with son Paul, his previous job as head trainer now occupied by John O’Shea.
The newly-founded Peter & Paul Snowden team have a total of 83 yearlings nominated for next February’s Blue Diamond showdown with former Darley’s (Godolphin) head trainer looking for his maiden win in the race out on his own.
The next best represented stable in the Blue Diamond Stakes nominations behind Godolphin meanwhile for is uncle-nephew training duo David Hayes & Tom Dabernig from Lindsay Park with 86 horses.
Hayes holds the current training record of most Blue Diamond Stakes winners with five, his champions over the years being: Reaan (2008), Sleek Chassis (2007), Nadeem (2006), Canonise (1991) and Mahaasin (1990).
Also with plenty of young hopefuls for next autumn’s major is Sydney’s leading lady of racing Gai Waterhouse with 84.
Waterhouse has enjoyed a record-equaling six wins in Sydney’s Golden Slipper Stakes but is yet to win a Blue Diamond Stakes.
She has saddled up nine hopefuls since 1983 for two second places and a third.
Premier Sydney-based trainer Chris Waller, who is also after his maiden Blue Diamond win, has upped his entries from 38 last season to 74.
Local horseman Mick Price (69) who won the 2012 edition with smart filly Samaready and Team Hawkes (62), Hall of Fame trainer John Hawkes after his first Blue Diamond win since Kusi (2003), also have plenty of chances in the iconic Caulfield clash.
Moving onto the sires, the stallion with the most Blue Diamond Stakes-nominated progeny for 2016 is Snitzel with 85 followed by Fastnet Rock (82).
First season sire Sepoy who completed the Blue Diamond Stakes – Golden Slipper Stakes double in 2011 meanwhile has 43 of his maiden crop of offspring nominated for the Diamond next year.
One of the most intriguing nominees though is a half-sister to champion mare Black Caviar and a full sister to All Too Hard.
Raced by Gilgai Farm, the as yet unnamed filly by Casino Prince out of Helsinge is part of racing’s blueblood and will be heavily scrutinized when she makes her debut.
Other top sires with progeny nominated for the classic include former Blue Diamond Stakes winners Alinghi (2004) and one of Hayes’s champions during his three-straight winning streak Sleek Chassis (2007).
All yearlings nominated for the Blue Diamond Stakes also receive an automatic entry into the lucrative $350,000 Listed Blue Sapphire Stakes (1200m) during next year’s Caulfield Cup Carnival in October.
2016 Blue Diamond Stakes first declarations close on Tuesday November 24 this spring.
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