Trainer John O’Shea and the Godolphin stable will saddle-up a stakes winner out to break a lengthy winning drought at Sandown Racecourse this weekend with Malice running in the 2015 Eclipse Stakes.
An all-black type nine race program is scheduled for Sandown Hillside for Zipping Classic Day on Saturday including the stayers facing off in the $150,000 Group 3 Eclipse Stakes (1800m) that attracted a bumper 31 nominations.
In the handicap clash for O’Shea is Teofilo five-year-old Malice, the gelding having won the last of his five victories back in November last year with elite level success in the Listed ATC Cup (2000m) at Rosehill.
Malice has failed to win again over the past 12 months, but has twice run second this campaign.
Second-up at Newcastle in September he was runner-up in the Group 3 Cameron Handicap (1500m) and last time out at Flemington on Melbourne Cup Day he crossed second again this time behind Awesome Rock in the Listed Cup Day Plate (1800m).
Group 1 performed this preparation when seventh to Chris Waller’s subsequent Cox Plate winner Winx in the Group 1 Epsom Handicap (1600m), Malice also has form around last Saturday’s Emirates Stakes winner Turn Me Loose when fourth to the Kiwi raider in Moonee Valley’s Group 2 Crystal Mile (1600m).
He runs over 1800m for the third time in Saturday’s Eclipse Stakes looking to go one better than his two seconds at the distance previously and carries 57kg.
Eclipse Stakes weights are topped by the David Hayes & Tom Dabernig-trained nine-year-old veteran Extra Zero (59kg) who also hasn’t won in a long time, his latest turf triumph being over 2000m at Flemington back on New Year’s Day.
Extra Zero was third in last year’s Eclipse Stakes behind the Darren Weir-trained winner Zabisco (2014).
Melbourne Cup winning horseman Weir has two entries as he shoots for back-to-back wins this spring with the out-of-form Puccini (58.5kg) who is a dual Group 1 winner in New Zealand and imported stallion Calvin Williams who was 12th in both the Seymour Cup and Cup Day Plate.
On November 3 Malice carried the same 57kg he is allocated this weekend where he has his first look at the Sandown track.
Working up to the Eclipse Stakes target the horse worked on the Flemington steeple grass on Tuesday morning along with a host of other Zipping Classic Day entries.
Malice worked solo over 1400m in 1:39.45 including a final 400m sectional in 25.62 seconds.
Another Flemington worker this morning with an Eclipse target was the Michael Moroney-trained Garud.
High Chaparral eight-year-old Garud has run third in his three most recent runs and also has encountered the Murray Baker-trained Turn Me Loose this season when third in the Listed Seymour Cup (1600m) on October 18.
His last start was in the same race that Malice finished second in last Tuesday when third in the Cup Day Plate carrying the 54kg minimum he has on his back again in the Eclipse Stakes.
Garud worked on the Pro-Ride at Flemington over the same 1400m distance alone, improving in the final 400m that he covered in a slightly slower 26.49 seconds.
The Eclipse Stakes field features a capacity 16 starters and four emergencies that will be released on Wednesday morning along with the all-important barrier draw.
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