2016 Challenge Stakes Nominations Feature Speak Fondly

Speak Fondly

Returning Flight Stakes winning filly Speak Fondly is nominated for a first-up run in the 2016 Challenge Stakes at Randwick Racecourse on Saturday. Photo: Steve Hart.

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
4 x120x259x2 CRAFTINESS G 5 Joseph Pride 96
5 5×14710621 DUNDERRY G 7 Paul Theobald 57
6 0511223×69 EMINENT DUKE G 4 Jan Bowen 73
7 1126x ENGLISH F 3 Gai Waterhouse 95
8 31933×1611 FELINES M 4 Kris Lees 92
9 135x7948x1 HEADWATER C 3 Michael, Wayne & John Hawkes 96
10 21x16x KINGLIKE C 3 Peter G Moody 89
11 x4291x374x OTTOMAN F 3 John O’Shea 86
12 5x12x11113 RULE THE RIVER M 4 Anthony Cummings 90
13 15x111136x SHIRAZ G 6 Tony McEvoy 105
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

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