The addition of Stuart Webb’s in-form Victorian visitor Great Esteem has boosted the total number of 2016 George Main Stakes nominations to eight ahead of the Sydney Group 1 at Royal Randwick on Saturday.
On Monday Racing NSW received just seven original entries for the $500,000 Group 1 George Main Stakes (1600m) before extending nominations for the race known this year as the Colgate Optic White Stakes until 11am on Tuesday.
One extra possible rival to superstar mare Winx is now in the mix, Caulfield horseman Webb paying the late entry for his Redoute’s Choice six-year-old Great Esteem.
Great Esteem also holds an entry for the $150,000 Group 3 Naturalism Stakes (2000m) at home at Caulfield on Saturday, the winner of which is exempt from ballot for the $3 million Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m).
A veteran of 35 starts, the gelding comes off back-to-back Caulfield wins including the Listed Heatherlie Handicap (1700m) when defeating Tom Melbourne by over a length on August 27.
Should he stay in Melbourne for a shot at the Naturalism Stakes, Great Esteem will carry the 54kg minimum with weights led by current 2016 Caulfield Cup favourite The United States (60kg).
The George Main Stakes meanwhile is a weight-for-age clash and would see Great Esteem carrying 59kg, while Winx gets in on 57kg as she shoots for her eleventh win on the trot.
Coming off a first-up romp home in the Group 2 Warwick Stakes (1400m) over Hartnell on August 20, Chris Waller’s Street Cry five-year-old Winx has been kept fit with a Warwick Farm trial over 1000m on September 9.
She chases her seventh Group 1 victory in the George Main Stakes, a race Waller has dominated the results of in recent years winning three of the past four editions.
His back-to-back winners in 2014-15, Sacred Falls and Kermadec both came off runs in the Group 2 Chelmsford Stakes (1600m).
Winx missed the Chelmsford this Sydney Spring Racing Carnival due to the Heavy-rated track at Randwick that day, but is still the odds-on favourite at $1.15 in pre-field George Main Stakes betting at Ladbrokes.com.au to win on Saturday.
Second favourite in early George Main Stakes odds at $9 is the Darren Weir-trained Japanese import Tosen Stardom having his second run for his new Victorian trainer.
The Deep Impact stallion comes off an eye-catching fourth first-up on September 3 at Moonee Valley in the Group 2 Dato’ Tan Chin Nam Stakes (1600m), and is yet to run top three over a mile.
The other best fancied to finish in the money behind Winx in this year’s George Main Stakes results are Hauraki ($10) and Le Romain ($13).
The John O’Shea-trained Reset five-year-old Hauraki comes off a first-up win at Randwick over Kris Lees’ Randwick Guineas Le Romain when the duo ran one-two in the Group 2 Tramway Stakes (1400m) on September 3.
Hauraki is a multiple Group 1 placegetter over 2000m so will relish the step-up to a mile this weekend as he prepares to tackle Winx for the first time since his third behind her in the Group 1 Chipping Norton Stakes (1600m) in late February.
The galloper, who later ran second to The United States in the Group 1 Ranvet Stakes (2000m) at Rosehill in the autumn, also ran third to Winx in the Group 2 Apollo Stakes (1400m) this year and crossed second to her as a three-year-old in the Group 2 Phar Lap Stakes (1500m) in the autumn of 2015.
Le Romain meanwhile is also nominated for a possible home run at Newcastle on Friday in the Group 3 Cameron Handicap (1350m) with Lees to make a decision of a next-up run for the four-year-old later in the week.
See below for the updated George Main Stakes 2016 nominations before heading to Ladbrokes.com.au to check out their great offers on the race this weekend.
2016 George Main Stakes Nominations
Randwick Racecourse – 17/09/2016
|#||Form (Last 10)||Horse||Sex||Age||Trainer||Ballot||Wgt.||Hcp. Rating|
|2||x0x51709x4||TOSEN STARDOM (JPN)||H||6||Darren Weir||2||59kg||111|
|4||3x611653x4||IT’S SOMEWHAT (USA)||G||6||John O’Shea||4=||59kg||108|
|5||2x12217x22||LE ROMAIN||G||4||Kris Lees||4=||58.5kg||108|
|6||447204x77x||SPIRITJIM (FR)||H||7||Chris Waller||6||59kg||107|
|8||5400070711||GREAT ESTEEM||G||6||Stuart Webb||8||59kg||97|