The 2015 Canterbury Stakes field has been released and a number of Group 1 winners are set to return to racing in the $500,000 race at Royal Randwick on Saturday.
Sacred Falls was sent to the spelling paddock after he finished a disappointing 11th in the Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley last year, but will return to racing this weekend after performing fairly in two barrier trials at Royal Randwick in February.
The O’Reilly entire has finished no better than fourth in his previous first-up starts in Australia and his chances of recording a first-up victory were not improved when he was allocated barrier eight.
Sacred Falls is joined in the Canterbury Stakes field by stablemate Royal Descent, who will also be returning to racing for the first time since a below par run in the Cox Plate.
Royal Descent (barrier six) has not recorded a race win since she scored a dominant victory in the 2013 edition of the Group 1 Australian Oaks (2400m), but she has been a consistent performer at the highest level of racing and has been placed in the Group 1 George Main Stakes (1600m), Group 1 Epsom Handicap (1600m) and Group 1 Doncaster Mile (1600m).
Another Cox Plate runner that is set to return to racing in the Canterbury Stakes is David Hayes and Tom Dabernig-trained Criterion.
Criterion (barrier four) performed well without winning at the highest level of racing during the 2014 Spring Racing Carnival before he made the trip to Hong Kong in December and finished a tough third behind Designs On Rome and Military Attack in the Group 1 Hong Kong Cup (2000m).
The Sebring entire did not spent any time in the spelling paddock after returning to Australia, but Hayes is happy with the progress of the four-year-old and is confident that he can sprint well fresh in the Canterbury Stakes this weekend.
Rounding out the Group 1 winners that are set to return to racing in the Canterbury Stakes is Joe Pride-trained Tiger Tees.
Tiger Tees was originally set to contest the Group 2 Challenge Stakes (1000m) at Royal Randwick this weekend, but Pride elected to add a late nomination for Tiger Tees in the Canterbury Stakes after only eight horses were included in the initial entries.
The Dubawi gelding won the Group 2 Warwick Stakes (1400m) at Royal Randwick against a similar field in the spring, but he may need some luck in running after he was allocated the outside gate.
Group 1 placegetter Fontelina (barrier seven), John Thompson-trained Hooked (barrier two) and Doomben Cup placegetter Leebaz (barrier five) are also set to return to racing in the Canterbury Stakes.
One of the most interesting horses in the 2015 Canterbury Stakes field is Chris Waller-trained Catkins, who will be making her weight-for-age debut in the Group 1 event this weekend.
Catkins (barrier three) will have a fitness edge over her rivals after taking out the Group 2 Breeders Classic (1200m) and Group 2 Millie Fox Quality (1300m) this preparation and may never have a better chance to record a maiden win at Group 1 level.
Another interesting inclusion in the Canterbury Stakes field is that of Group 1 winning mare Cosmic Endeavour, who will be coming into the race off a short back-up after she finished second behind Danesiri in Group 3 Guy Walter Stakes (1400m) at Warwick Farm last weekend.