Murwillumbah trainer Matthew Dunn is looking...
A spot in the Caulfield Cup 2017 field is up for grabs this weekend with a host of potential Group 1 spring stayers nominated for the Naturalism Stakes at Caulfield Racecourse.
This season’s edition attracted a bumper 25 early entries for the Group 3 $150,000 Naturalism Stakes (2000m) on Saturday, the winner of which is exempt from ballot for the Group 1 $3 million BMW Caulfield Cup (2400m) back at the track on October 21.
Last year Ciaron Maher’s mare Jameka won the Naturalism Stakes and went on to beat the boys in the Caulfield Cup two starts later, so the spring carnival form is there for the punters to follow.
Three Naturalism Stakes nominees head the weights with 59kg: Tally, Star Exhibit and Sir Isaac Newton.
Of those the early money in pre-field Naturalism Stakes betting at Ladbrokes.com.au is on the all-in $4.60 favourite Star Exhibit for Darren Weir.
Six-year-old Star Exhibit is currently rated a $26 chance in futures Caulfield Cup betting, the Statue Of Liberty six-year-old sitting equal 25th on the order of entry for the mile and a half classic.
Winner of the Group 2 Perth Cup (2400m) last New Year’s Eve, Star Exhibit is proven over the Caulfield Cup distance and is out to atone for a last start disaster at Moonee Valley.
On September 9 the horse lost his jockey, Mark Zahra, in the Group 2 Dato’ Tan Chin Nam Stakes (1600m) and now chases his first win since April lining-up in the Naturalism Stakes.
Weir has a total of five Naturalism Stakes entries with the stables other two standouts being Big Duke (58.5kg) and Amelie’s Star (56kg) who pay $9 and $6.50 respectively in early markets for the Group 3.
Big Duke is allocated just 53.5kg in the Caulfield Cup weights and sits well down the ballot order (=35).
Third in the Sydney Cup trifecta over the two miles in the autumn, the six-year-old has run fifth in his two lead-up spring runs this time in and is a $51 roughie for the Caulfield Cup next month.
Amelie’s Star also needs to secure the exemption to make the Caulfield Cup field with the Testa Rossa mare sitting 49th on the ballot with only 51kg.
She hasn’t won a race since success in a Group 2 over the mile in Adelaide back in May, after which she finished under two lengths fourth behind Sense Of Occasion in the Group 1 Doomben Cup (2000m).
As for the other top weights in the Naturalism Stakes nominations, Tally represents Godolphin and Sir Isaac Newton is raced by Lloyd Williams.
Street Cry five-year-old Tally comes off a lead-up fourth in the Listed Heatherlie Handicap (1700m) at the track on September 2 and is at $11 for the win on the weekend.
Tally is already assured of a spot in the capacity 18-starter Caulfield Cup field sitting third on the order of entry with 54kg.
Sir Isaac Newton though is equal 29th on the same kilos (54kg), but is a $21 outsider in Naturalism Stakes markets after his eighth when walking home in the Dato’ Tan Chin Nam Stakes first-up.
Williams and trainer Robert Hickmott have also nominated for reigning Sydney Cup winner Gallante to run first-up in the Naturalism Stakes field.
The bookies are taking no chances with Naturalism Stakes-bound Abbey Marie ($6), who ran second in the Dato’ last time out, and the ultra-consistent Gai Waterhouse-trained Stampede ($6) who are both fighting for a Caulfield Cup spot.
High Chaparral entire Stampede has won his past three starts including a first-up effort over the Moonee Valley mile carrying 59kg to a dominant two and a quarter-length win fresh.
Check out the full Naturalism Stakes 2017 nominations and all-in odds below before heading to Ladbrokes.com.au for the weekend’s racing odds and futures Group 1 betting. .
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