Caulfield Guineas runner-up Divine Calling has been included in the nominations for the 2013 Coolmore Stud Stakes (1200m) and will face clear favourite Zoustar in the Group 1 event at Flemington on Saturday.
Divine Calling beat Cox Plate winner Shamus Award in the Group 2 Bill Stutt Stakes (1600m) before finishing second behind Long John (1600m) in the Caulfield Guineas and trainer Gai Waterhouse made the decision to set the Stratum gelding for the Coolmore Stud Stakes rather than continue to step the three-year-old up in distance.
Waterhouse told TVN that she believes that Divine Calling is good enough to beat Zoustar in the Coolmore Stud Stakes this weekend and said she is confident that the drop back in distance will not be a problem for the Gerry Harvey-owned galloper.
“He will take a stack of beating, he is a really good horse,” Waterhouse said.
“I don’t think coming back in distance will be a worry.
“Tommy Berry rode him this morning and he was very sharp on the track and he is ready for Saturday.”
Berry worked Divine Calling over 1000 metres at Flemington this morning, with the gelding running his last 400 metres in 22.8 seconds according to Flemington clocker Warren Huntley, and the rising jockey admitted that he was surprised by the impressive acceleration the three-year-old showed during the gallop.
“I understand that he has been up for a long preparation and I didn’t expect him to be as sharp in his work,” Berry said.
“He worked over six furlongs and really strode out nicely in the last furlong; I was really happy with him.
“He has pulled up well in the wind and having a look around and jumping coming off the track so it was really nice.”
Divine Calling will meet Golden Rose winner Zoustar in the Coolmore Stud Stakes who is expected to be retired if he is successful in the Group 1 event, because of his prospects as a stallion at stud.
Zoustar’s father Northern Meteor won the 2008 edition of the Coolmore Stud Stakes and was Australia’s leading first season sire last season but passed away suddenly in July after suffering a colic attack.
The untimely death of his father enhances Zoustar’s prospects as a stallion and trainer Chris Waller confirmed that there has been a great deal of interest from studs all around Australia.
“All the main studs want him and from what I hear things are getting close to being sorted out,” Waller told TVN.
The 2013 Coolmore Stud Stakes has drawn a very strong group of nominations; with Caulfield Guineas Prelude winner Éclair Big Bang, Mick Price-trained Lion Of Belfort, Queensland filly Missy Longstocking, Darley colt Sidestep and Red Anchor Stakes winner Thermal Current all included in the nominations for the stallion-making race.