The Coolmore Classic 2016 in March is the big autumn aim for the David Hayes & Tom Dabernig-trained Stay With Me who like superstar stablemate Criterion will race solely in Sydney this campaign.
Co-trainer Dabernig confirmed on Racing Ahead that Criterion would head towards a shot at back-to-back $4 million Group 1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) victories this season via the Canterbury Stakes and George Ryder Stakes.
He would not have a Melbourne lead-up run despite being among the 55 gallopers nominated for Flemington’s $1.5 million Group 1 Australian Cup (2000m) on March 12 this week.
Stay With Me will also bypass any Melbourne races as she too targets elite level glory in the autumn, the three-year-old Street Cry filly heading towards a shot at the older mares in the $600,000 Group 1 Coolmore Classic (1500m) at Rosehill Gardens on the same day as the Australian Cup runs in Victoria.
A winner of three of her seven career starts to date the up-and-comer is best known for her impressive one and three quarter length win over Jameka in the Group 1 Thousand Guineas (1600m) at Caulfield last October.
She was last seen running a brave sixth when beaten two and a half lengths by Politeness in the Group 1 Myer Classic (1600m) at Flemington on Victoria Derby Day, a race no three-year-old has won in over 20 years.
The record of three-year-olds in the Coolmore Classic is more appealing for the connections of the fillies with five winning since 2003.
The most recent however was Peter Moody’s late great broodmare Typhoon Tracy back in 2009.
Dabernig named the $175,000 Group 2 Light Fingers Stakes (1200m) at Randwick Racecourse on February 13 as the first-up assignment for Stay With Me, who is yet to race outside of Victoria, following a trial at the track over 830m this Friday.
Also engaged in the second hit-out at Randwick on Friday morning are four Chris Waller-trained runners including Cox Plate winning mare Winx and the John Thompson-trained Coolmore Classic runner-up from last March First Seal.
After the Light Fingers Stakes Stay With Me will run second-up in the $175,000 Group 2 Surround Stakes (1400m) at Randwick on Chipping Norton Stakes Day, February 27, won by First Seal last autumn.
“She definitely hasn’t gone backwards,” Dabernig said of Stay With Me.
“I don’t know if we look at her through rose-coloured glasses, but to my eye, she’s flying.”
The stable is preparing to welcome back a host of potential autumn stars including Oakleigh Plate-bound sprinter Keen Array and Caulfield Classic winner Sacred Eye who is tipped to resume in the $150,000 Group 3 The Vanity (1200m) at Flemington on Black Caviar Lightning Stakes Day.
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