Blue Diamond Stakes 2016 second declarations closed this week leaving 209 youngsters still heading towards the Caulfield classic on February 27.
Down from 618 two-year-old first acceptors for this year’s $1.5 million Group 1 Blue Diamond Stakes (1200m), sponsored by Ladbrokes.com.au, the list of hopeful juveniles for the Melbourne Autumn Racing Carnival feature is up 10 on second declarations from last season.
Heading the line-up of Blue Diamond Stakes second acceptors is the David Hayes & Tom Dabernig stable with 23 runners still in the mix.
Hayes boasts an impressive five previous Blue Diamond Stakes victories including his three on the trot between 2006-08 with Nadeem, Sleek Chassis and Reaan.
Godolphin and the operation’s head trainer down under John O’Shea follow numbers-wise with 21 entries led by Medaglia D’Oro colt Astern who blitzed his debut at Randwick early last month winning by 2.5 lengths.
In the 1000m sprint he defeated subsequent Wyong Magic Millions runner-up Niccolance who also finished fourth to star stablemate Capitalist in the $2 million Magic Millions Classic (1200m) on the Gold Coast this month.
Formerly Darley, Godolphin have taken out two of the past five editions of the Blue Diamond Stakes with the Peter Snowden-trained Sepoy (2011) and smart filly Earthquake (2014).
Snowden also prepared last year’s Blue Diamond Stakes winner Pride Of Dubai (2015), who looks set to return for the autumn after a top Sydney trial at Randwick this week, in partnership with his son Paul.
The third best represented stable is local horseman Mick Price with 18 two-year-olds still in contention including early favourite in futures Blue Diamond Stakes betting Extreme Choice.
The Not A Single Doubt colt won the lucrative $500,000 Inglis Nursery (1000m) on debut by two lengths at Randwick on December 12 shooting to the top of the all-in Blue Diamond Stakes odds.
Extreme Choice currently pays $5 to win and hand Price with this second Blue Diamond Stakes success following his 2012 win with Samaready.
There are two other single figure Blue Diamond chances in the latest markets with the aforementioned Astern ($7) and Defcon ($9) who is the best fancied to hand Peter & Paul Snowden with back-to-back wins.
Unraced Choisir colt Defcon is yet to run under race conditions but has had two Sydney trials, the latest producing a third in the wet over 900m at Rosehill on January 4.
Sydney’s premier trainer Chris Waller chases his maiden Blue Diamond Stakes victory with 10 entries while fellow Sydney-based Gai Waterhouse has five second acceptances.
Waterhouse is also yet to prepare a Blue Diamond Stakes winner and the shortest priced in early markets of her remaining runners is Exceed And Excel filly So Serene, runner-up to Extreme Choice in last month’s Inglis Nursery.
Adding further interest to the Blue Diamond Stakes second declarations is the inclusion of Kiwi galloper Manolo Blahniq, a son of 2011 Rosehill Guineas winner and Cox Plate runner-up Jimmy Choux.
Manolo Blahniq has had two runs at home in New Zealand, most recently taking out the Group 3 Eclipse Stakes (1200m) ate Ellerslie by a tidy three and a half lengths on January 1 as the odds-on favourite.
The most notable omission from the Blue Diamond Stakes second acceptors is Magic Millions Classic champion Capitalist, Team Snowden instead to aim him at Australia’s richest two-year-old race the $3.5 million Golden Slipper at Rosehill in March.
Check out the full futures Ladbrokes Blue Diamond Stakes 2016 betting odds and back your early picks for next month’s feature online now at Ladbrokes.com.au!