The Michael, Wayne & John Hawkes-trained star sprinter Chautauqua looks very hard to beat as the headline acceptor into the 2015 Gilgai Stakes field in Melbourne this weekend.
Kicking off the Group racing action on the all-black type Flemington race card for Turnbull Stakes Day on Sunday as Race 3 at 1:40pm (AEST) is the $200,000 Group 2 Gilgai Stakes (1200m).
This year’s edition features a field of 10 sprinters, many heading towards the $1 million Group 1 Darley Classic (1200m) back at the track and distance in November during the Melbourne Cup Carnival.
Leading the current all-in Darley Classic odds at bookies around the country is Encosta De Lago gelding Chautauqua, winner of the Group 1 TJ Smith Stakes (1200m) at Randwick in early April.
Chautauqua won last year’s Gilgai Stakes in a massive four length effort over Bounding before a Darley Classic second to Terravista and is out to defend his title in the former this spring on the back of a first-up Group 2 McEwen Stakes (1000m) victory at Moonee Valley four weeks ago.
Chautauqua is drawn wide in barrier nine for jockey Dwayne Dunn to overcome and is one of just two last start winners in the mix along with the in-form David Hayes & Tom Dabernig-trained Churchill Dancer drawn one his inside in gate eight.
Michael Walker is down to ride the five-year-old who comes off back-to-back 1200m wins firstly at Moonee Valley on August 22 and then in the Group 2 Bobbie Lewis Quality at Flemington on September 12 defeating subsequent Group 1 Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes third placegetter Under The Louvre.
On Sunday Churchill Dancer will be out to continue to frank the form coming out of the Bobbie Lewis this season and will be high up the markets as the most likely to score the upset over Chautauqua.
Also coming off nice lead-up form are the likes of the Peter & Paul Snowden-trained Charlie Boy drawn well in gate four for Blake Shinn and the Peter Moody-trained Royal Rapture.
Five-year-old Charlie Boy has had three Flemington runs for one win to date and comes off a close second when carrying 60kg in the Listed Testa Rossa Stakes (1200m) at Caulfield.
He drops down to 56.5kg this weekend and will be better with less weight on his back.
Moody’s Clangalang six-year-old Royal Rapture meanwhile ran fifth in that same race beaten only one and a half lengths on the back of some good Tasmanian form including a 1400m win at Launceston during the winter.
Other noteworthy Gilgai Stakes runners this year include the returning John O’Shea-trained Knoydart who was runner-up in the Group 1 BTC Cup (1200m) at Doomben back in early May and Chris Waller’s Shamardal four-year-old Delectation coming off a dead last when beaten under three lengths by Rebel Dane in Sydney’s Group 2 The Shorts (11009m) from September 19.
See below for the full Gilgai Stakes 2015 field, barriers, jockeys and set weights plus penalties.
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2015 Gilgai Stakes Final Field & Barrier Draw
Flemington Race 3 (1:40pm) – 04/10/2015
|#||Form (Last 10)||Horse||Trainer||Jockey||Br.||Wgt.||Hcp. Rating|
|1||112x1213x1||CHAUTAUQUA||Michael, Wayne & John Hawkes||Dwayne Dunn||9||57kg||114|
|2||2x207139x6||DELECTATION||Chris Waller||Hugh Bowman||7||57kg||102|
|3||346x5120x2||CHARLIE BOY||Peter & Paul Snowden||Blake Shinn||4||56.5kg||105|
|4||0x3041x211||CHURCHILL DANCER||David Hayes & Tom Dabernig||Michael Walker||8||56.5kg||100|
|5||536x215x77||THERMAL CURRENT||Peter G Moody||Glen Boss||5||56kg||93|
|6||50x464240x||KNOYDART||John O’Shea||James McDonald||10||55.5kg||104|
|7||23x00x0x00||WE’RE GONNA ROCK||Tony Romeo||Fabian Alesci||2||55kg||92|
|8||26341131×5||ROYAL RAPTURE||Peter G Moody||Craig Newitt||6||55kg||89|
|9||1216×06||EARTHLY TIGER||Wez Hunter||Tommy Berry||3||55kg||67|
|10||4125277×00||SCARLET BILLOWS||Darren Weir||Dean Yendall||1||53kg||85|