The 2015 Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival is just over a month away and a number of key players are set to their first public appearances this preparation in the barrier trials at Royal Randwick on Thursday.
The second barrier trial of the morning will feature the reappearance of two of the most exciting horses in the Gai Waterhouse stable in the form of Group 1 winner Hampton Court and imported galloper Pornichet.
Hampton Court was beaten as a short-priced favourite in the Group 1 Victoria Derby (2500m), but earlier in his campaign stamped himself as one of the leading staying colts in Australia with an impressive win in the Group 1 Spring Champion Stakes (2000m), while Pornichet started his racing career in Australia with a fast-finishing fourth in the Group 3 Yellowglen Stakes (1400m) and a strong win in the Group 3 Sandown Stakes (1500m).
2013 Queensland Derby winner Hawkspur has not been seen at the races since he finished 11th in the Group 1 Mackinnon Stakes (2000m), but he has been included in the acceptances for the trial and he will be joined by stablemate Secessio, while the Godolphin trio of Sarajevo, Berimbau and Shaumari will also take part.
The third barrier trial over 1050 metres is arguably the most exciting barrier trial of the morning and will include 2014 Caulfield Guineas winner Shooting To Win.
Co-trainer Peter Snowden revealed last week that Shooting To Win would contest the barrier trial ahead of his likely return to racing in either the Group 3 Eskimo Prince Stakes (1200m) or the Group 2 Hobartville Stakes (1400m).
Cosmic Endeavour has not been seen at the races since she recorded a maiden win at Group 1 level in the Tattersall’s Tiara (1400m) at Eagle Farm on June 21, but has been named to contest heat 3, while she will be joined by troublesome stablemate Liberation and Queen Of The Turf Stakes winner Diamond Drille.
Godolphin import Contributer has been set for the Group 1 Australian Cup (2000m) at Flemington on March 14 and trainer John O’Shea will step up his preparation on Thursday and has also included the lightly-raced Farolitos and Segregation in the nominations.
The third barrier trial is rounded out by the Chris Waller-trained duo of Arinosa and Catkins and talented Team Snowden-trained gelding Diamond Valores.
Other interesting horses to trial at Royal Randwick on Thursday included imported stayer Greatwood, talented mare Queenstown, Breeders Plate winner Vancouver, talented Kiwi gelding Cauthen and the Paul Messara stable stars Panzer Division and Scissor Kick.