Gai Waterhouse’s returning Flight Stakes winner Speak Fondly is one of the most notable nominations taken for the Challenge Stakes 2016 at Randwick Racecourse this Saturday in Sydney.
The three-year-old Northern Meteor filly is one of 16 early entries for this season’s $500,000 Group 2 Hyland Race Colours Challenge Stakes (1000m), nominations for the weight-for-age sprint extended until 11am (AEDT) on Tuesday morning.
Of the current nominees there are five three-year-olds entered to take on the older sprinters including Waterhouse’s daughter of Northern Meteor Speak Fondly.
The filly is a four time winner from eight starts to date and boasts an outstanding Randwick track record of three wins and a third from four starts at the course she returns to on the weekend.
Her latest run was the narrow win over Honesta in the Group 1 Flight Stakes (1600m) last October that followed her second to Exosphere in the Group 1 Golden Rose Stakes (1400m).
Speak Fondly showed she had come through her spell in good order with a winning Randwick barrier trial on February 19 and looks on track for a big Challenge Stakes run over what is likely to be short of her best distance.
Waterhouse has also nominated for another lightly raced filly, Encosta De Lago three-year-old English not seen since her sixth to Pride Of Dubai in the Group 1 ATC Sires’ Produce Stakes (1400m) back in April last year.
That followed the promising filly’s second in the Group 1 Golden Slipper Stakes (1200m) and her Group 2 Reisling Stakes (1200m) win in March.
She has had three trials to bring her on fitness wise before the Challenge Stakes including a winning 837m hit out over one of the top 2016 Golden Slipper fancies this season Capitalist.
The other big name three-year-old in the mix is the Michael, Wayne & John Hawkes-trained Headwater whose last start was a Flemington win in the Listed Kensington Stakes (1000m) in Melbourne.
The highest rated of the Challenge Stakes nominations is the Joe Pride-trained Dubawi eight-year-old Tiger Tees who comes off a fourth to Our Boy Malachi, running in the Group 1 Canterbury Stakes (1300m) on Saturday, in the Group 2 Expressway Stakes (1200m).
Tiger Tees is best known for his Group 1 The Galaxy (1100m) win in March of 2014 and is after his first win since August that year.
Also right up the ratings is the fellow Pride-trained Ball Of Muscle, a super-consistent five-year-old that boasts two wins and a third from three runs over the Challenge Stakes track and distance.
He is first-up this weekend and has a great record when resuming (5-2-2-1), his last start being a Group 2 third over the 1000m in Melbourne on Caulfield Cup Day in the spring.
The gelding won a Warwick Farm trial on February 22 leading up to his return where he aims for his first win since Brisbane’s Group 2 QTC Cup (1200m) last winter.
Pride’s third nominee for the weekend’s clash is Craftiness, the Starcraft five-year-old second-up after a second over the track and distance with a big weight (62.5kg) in a Benchmark 93 a month ago.
Other notable Challenge Stakes nominations include winner of the same race that produces Craftiness Felines for Newcastle’s Kris Lees, the Tony McEvoy-trained Shiraz shooting for a fifth first-up win from six starts and the consistent Commands four-year-old for Anthony Cummings Rule The River.
See below for the current Challenge Stakes 2016 nominations, the final field of acceptances and barrier draw released on Wednesday.
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2016 Challenge Stakes Nominations
Randwick Racecourse – 05/03/2016
|#||Form (Last 10)||Horse||Sex||Age||Trainer||Hcp. Rating|
|1||x221x3223x||BALL OF MUSCLE||G||5||Joseph Pride||106|
|2||x1120x3415||BOSS LANE||G||5||Ron Quinton||100|
|3||x2497x380x||BRING ME THE MAID||M||4||Peter G Moody||98|
|6||0511223×69||EMINENT DUKE||G||4||Jan Bowen||73|
|9||135x7948x1||HEADWATER||C||3||Michael, Wayne & John Hawkes||96|
|10||21x16x||KINGLIKE||C||3||Peter G Moody||89|
|12||5x12x11113||RULE THE RIVER||M||4||Anthony Cummings||90|
|14||x210x1121x||SPEAK FONDLY||F||3||Gai Waterhouse||105|
|15||2x80x568x4||TIGER TEES (NZ)||G||8||Joseph Pride||107|
|16||40x25x20x6||VA PENSIERO||H||5||Jason Coyle||100|