Peter & Paul Snowden’s Group 3 winning colt Defcon returns to racing on Saturday and is the early favourite in betting of the 2016 HDF McNeil Stakes nominations.
A total of 22 three-year-olds make up the nominations for this year’s $150,000 Group 3 H.D.F. McNeil Stakes (1200m), often used as a lead-up to the Group 1 Caulfield Guineas (1600m).
Last Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival Team Snowden won the HDF McNeil Stakes with Gold Symphony (2015) and they’re back in 2016 with the $5 favourite in all-in betting at Ladbrokes.com.au Defcon.
A son of Choisir, Defcon won the Group 3 Black Opal Stakes (1200m) in early March at Canberra after two earlier Group seconds in Sydney.
His last run though was a distant 13th to stablemate Capitalist in the Group 1 Golden Slipper Stakes (200m) at Rosehill from a wide alley (13 of 16),
He has since trialled twice for two placings including a third to Astern when only a quarter-length off in a 1050m hit-out from August 19 and looks on track for a good first-up run on the weekend.
At set weights plus penalties Defcon is the equal highest weighted of the HDF McNeil Stakes entries along with the Lindsay Park-trained Seaburge with 58.5kg.
Seaburge pays $6 as the firming second elect in HDF McNeil Stakes betting.
The son of Sebring is a Group 2 winner over 1400m at Flemington having won the VRC Sires’ Produce Stakes in March and was last seen finishing a mid-field sixth to Yankee Rose in the Group 1 ATC Sires’ Produce Stakes (1400m) at Rosehill on April 2.
The Lindsay Park team is now made up of David and his son Ben along with Tom Dabernig and they have a total of three HDF McNeil Stakes nominees this season.
Seaburge is joined in the possible line-up by stablemates Highland Beat and Blue Tycoon, both at $7 in the current markets for the win.
Exceed And Excel colt Highland Beat is a perennial placegetter and his latest run produced a second to stablemate Russian Revolution in the Group 3 Vain Stakes (1100m), a race Gold Symphony won leading up to his McNeil success 12 months ago.
Highland Beat was defeated just a quarter length in the August 13 race and is tipped for another big run on the weekend on way to a possible 2016 Caulfield Guineas assignment on October 8.
Blue Tycoon meanwhile has won two of his three starts so far, the Written Tycoon gelding as yet untested in Black-Type company.
He won a two-years-old set weights race over the 1100m at Caulfield in mid-May on the back of two Adelaide runs.
The other $7 hope for the weekend as the markets stand is Hardham for top local horseman Mick Price.
A nicely-bred Redoute’s Choice colt, Hardham won at Pakenham on debut before a close third in a blanket finish when a half-length off Russian Revolution in the Vain Stakes earlier in the month.
Hardham is also the shortest priced of the McNeil Stakes nominees in early Caulfield Guineas betting paying $17 to take out the Group 1 later in the season.
Other notable hopefuls include the undefeated Danny O’Brien-trained Awake In Grinzing and Henry Dwyer’s Darci Brahma filly Leotie who ran second to I Am A Star in the Group 3 Quezette Stakes (1100m) at the track on August 13.
See below for the latest H.D.F. McNeil Stakes 2016 nominations and all-in markets provided by Ladbrokes.com.au, prices to firm once the final field and barriers are released on Wednesday.