The countdown to the Sydney Spring Racing...
Group racing at the Gold Coast this weekend is shaping up as a multi-national event with the day’s feature race drawing a list of both local and internationally imported runners.
The $300,000 Group 2 Hollindale Stakes (1800m) is the premier race on a bumper programme at the Gold Coast this Saturday with a star-studded list of early entries.
While dual Group 1 winner Vision And Power has been ruled out of the Hollindale Stakes instead accepted for Saturday’s $100,000 Lord Mayor’s Cup (1900m) at Canterbury, the list of possible starters still boasts plenty of depth.
Sure to start the favourite is Chris Waller’s in-form import My Kingdom Of Fife.
Unbeaten in Australia to date having won the Group 3 Doncaster Mile Prelude (1600m) in a massive upset as a $151 roughie before their success in the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) at Randwick, Kingmambo gelding My Kingdom Of Fife looks well positioned to continue their impressive assault on our turf.
Formerly owned by Queen Elizabeth, My Kingdom Of Fife is turning out to be one of the best performed imports Rosehill-based trainer Waller has ever bought over having already won over $600,000 in prize money for connections from two starts.
Waller was earlier considering My Kingdom Of Fife for the Wagga Gold Cup on Friday instead of the Hollindale, however was forced to change plans when the stayer was given a hefty 62.5kg for the Cup by Wagga handicappers.
“My Kingdom Of Fife doesn’t have to run in the Hollindale but he’s likely to,” Waller said.
“It’s a good race and has good prize money.”
Triple Honour is also nominated for the Hollindale by Waller, the Honours List six-year-old boasting a good record in Brisbane having run a game third beaten a quarter of a length by Metal Bender in the Group 1 Doomben Cup last year before going on to take out the Group 2 Eagle Farm Cup.
With last weekend’s Gold Coast meeting abandoned due to the heavy rain and poor track conditions, Waller is hoping the weather stays clear ahead of this Saturday for Triple Honour.
“I’d like to see a better track for Triple Honour,” he said.
“He’s a genuine Group Three horse now and is not as good as he was.
“He always seems to come right this time of the year but he’s getting a bit cunning as he gets older.”
The strong international flavour adding to the interest of this year’s Hollindale Stakes continues with another quality European import, the now Michael Moroney-trained Glass Harmonium making their Australian debut in the weight-for-age showdown.
Verglas five-year-old Glass Harmonium is heading towards a run in the $500,000 Group 1 Doomben Cup (2020m) on May 21 and has surprisingly been one of the best-backed runners in the early markets for the race now into $11 after opening at around $40.
Originally trained in England by Sir Michael Stoute, Glass Harmonium was transferred to Moroney after his disappointing 12th place finish behind Snow Fairy in the Group 1 Hong Kong Cup at Sha Tin last December.
“He brings better form to Australia than My Kingdom Of Fife and he goes really good,” Moroney said.
“He raced in a couple of Group Ones when he was in England and he won a Group Three (the Richards Stakes over 2011m last April) over there.
“The day he won the Group Three he beat Redwood who ran second in the Sheema Classic in Dubai this year.”
Another Australian trainer famous for importing European gallopers, Lee Freedman attempted to purchase Glass Harmonium last year but never secured the sale.
“We got him for nice money but it was nowhere near as much as they wanted the previous year when Lee Freedman chased him,” Moroney said.
“If he brings his English form here he’ll be very competitive.”
Following the Doomben Cup, Moroney plans to target to Caulfield Cup during the spring with Glass Harmonium.
“The Caulfield Cup will be his mission in the spring but I’ll also nominate him for the Melbourne Cup,” Moroney said.
Aside from the ruled-out Vision And Power, My Kingdom Of Fife and Triple Honour there are four other individual Group 1 winners heading towards the Hollindale.
The other elite-level performers seeking a good start to their winter carnival campaigns are evergreen veteran WA galloper Scenic Shot, the Mick Price-trained Heart Of Dreams, Toowoomba-trained Epsom Handicap winner Captain Sonador and local High Chaparral four-year-old Shoot Out.
Prepared by John Wallace at the Gold Coast, Shoot Out is the equal $6.50 favourite along with fellow Hollindale Stakes rival My Kingdom Of Fife to win the upcoming Doomben Cup.
Meanwhile, famed Eagle Farm trainer Robert Heathcote is ready to continue his good form with Our Lukas lining up in the Hollindale.
Heathcote enjoyed an excellent start to the winter racing season in Queensland with his Mossman three-year-old Buffering taking out the Group 2 Victory Stakes (1200m) on their home track last Saturday and will hope for more of the same from his seven-year-old Our Lukas.
Coming off a devastatingly close second to Scenic Shot in the Listed Winning Edge Member’s Quality (1600m) at Eagle Farm on April 23, Our Lukas could give Heathcote his fourth Group 2 victory.
“His last run was awesome against Scenic Shot and I think he really opened a few eyes that day,” Heathcote said.
“It’s a very hard field with My Kingdom Of Fife and Scenic Shot in it again but my bloke won’t be stopping.
“Realistically he’ll have to improve a few lengths as Scenic Shot is bound to be further improved as well.”
There are likely to be only 11 Hollindale Stakes acceptors at most when the field is released tomorrow with the Robert Hickmott-trained Niblick also confirmed as a defector along with Vision And Power.
“Niblick won’t be going up and I’ll run him in a 1600-metre race at Flemington on Saturday,” Hickmott said.
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