Darren Weir’s smart Matron Stakes winning mare Felicienne is one of the headline nominations taken for the Sunline Stakes 2016 at Moonee Valley Racecourse on William Reid Stakes Night this Thursday.
The key support act on the card, this season’s $200,000 Group 2 Sunline Stakes (1600m) attracted 18 fillies and mares at nomination stage including a number of last start winners.
The most notable of those is Al Maher four-year-old Felicienne who won the Group 3 Matron Stakes (1600m) over the same distance at Flemington on March 12.
She will face a number of the same rivals if accepted at the Valley including Matron Stakes runner-up Metaphorical from the under-siege Peter Moody stables who is also nominated for Saturday’s Group 3 Easter Cup (2000m) over more distance at Caulfield.
Last year’s Sunline Stakes winner was Robert Smerdon-trained Noble Protector who won the same race Felicienne did this season ahead of her Group 2 success at the valley.
She then backed-up in Sydney’s Group 1 Queen Of The Turf Stakes (1600m) at Randwick during ‘The Championships’ for a brave third to Amanpour.
The six-year-old daughter of Haafhd was one of the best in betting to successfully defend her Matron Stakes title this Melbourne Autumn Racing Carnival, but lost her rider Craig Williams just after the jump.
She officially runs first-up then in the Sunline Stakes looking to atone for the run, which she still finished riderless, and has a strong record by first (6-2-1-0) and second-up (5-3-0-1).
Smerdon has also nominated for Ungrateful Ellen as he shoots for back-to-back Sunline Stakes wins, the four-year-old daughter of Grey Swallow in Group company for the first time since her fourth to Lucia Valentina in the Group 2 Matriarch Stakes (2000m) last November.
Ungrateful Ellen also has Group 1 form including her second to superstar Winx in last year’s Queensland Oaks (2200m) at Doomben.
The other most notable last start winner among this season’s Sunline Stakes nominations is the David Hayes & Tom Dabernig-trained Wawail.
The five-year-old daughter of Lonhro took out Flemington’s Group 3 Frances Tressady Stakes (1400m) last time out and her along with the third placed Choose for Lee & Shannon Hope are also strong chances on Thursday.
Team Hope also have Group 1 winner Fenway in the mix, the High Chaparral mare best known for her Vinery Stud Stakes (2000m) win and Australasian Oaks (2000m) second last autumn.
She has won just once since taking out the Group 2 Stocks Stakes (1600m) at Moonee Valley last October, but was brave when second in the spring’s Group 1 Myer Classic (1600m) also.
This season she has had three runs including a Group 2 Peter Young Stakes (1800m) second to Bow Creek and a fourth in the Group 1 Australian Cup (2000m), from which she’ll drop in distance if accepted for the Sunline.
Other notable hopes include Matron Stakes fourth placegetter Miss Rose De Lago for Danny O’Brien and the progressive Prepee who won over the Cranbourne mile earlier in the month.
See below for the full Sunline Stakes 2016 nominations, the final field and barriers set for release on Tuesday morning.
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2016 Sunline Stakes Nominations
Moonee Valley Racecourse – 24/03/2016
|#||Form (Last 10)||Horse||Sex||Age||Trainer||Hcp. Rating|
|2||600x3210x3||ANFITRIONA||M||5||Peter G Moody||78|
|3||91128×1383||CHOOSE||M||5||Lee & Shannon Hope||92|
|4||x84315x544||DIG A PONY||M||5||Peter G Moody||83|
|6||2x9102x924||FENWAY||M||4||Lee & Shannon Hope||108|
|7||1x4x59058x||HOLY COW||M||5||Michael Kent||70|
|9||04x1129x79||INTO THE MIST||M||4||Tony McEvoy||76|
|11||153337×845||JESSY BELLE||M||5||Luke Oliver||92|
|13||3198×43342||METAPHORICAL||M||5||Peter G Moody||93|
|14||4291410×34||MISS ROSE DE LAGO||M||5||Danny O’Brien||96|
|15||4x113x00xL||NOBLE PROTECTOR (GB)||M||6||Robert Smerdon||104|
|17||32x84446x5||UNGRATEFUL ELLEN||M||4||Robert Smerdon||85|
|18||39x022x461||WAWAIL||M||4||David Hayes & Tom Dabernig||99|