A cancelled trip to Perth has seen Caulfield trainer Ciaron Maher nominate Kilmore Cup winner Hezzabeel for the Group 3 $150,000 Festival Stakes (1500m) at Rosehill on Saturday.
Maher had planned to take Hazzabeel back to his home State to run in the Group 1 $1m Peters Investments-Kingston Town Classic (1800m) at Ascot in Perth on Saturday after the six year old returned to winning form in the Listed $130,000 Kilmore Cup (1600m) at Kilmore on November 20.
But his scheduled flight was cancelled so Maher has reverted to plan B and will now head to Sydney for the Festival Stakes as lead up to the Group 2 $250,000 Villiers Stakes (1600m) at Randwick on December 17.
“He just can’t get there so we’ve opted for a nice race in Sydney instead,” Maher told racing.com.
“He was meant to fly out on Friday but that didn’t happen and there are no suitable flights left.”
This time last year saw Hazzabeel earn a start in the Group 1 $1m James Boag’s Premium-Railway Stakes (1600m) at Ascot after winning the Group 3 $150,000 David Grays Aglink-R.J. Peters Stakes (1500m) at Ascot.
Hazzabeel was sent out as one of the favourites for the Railway Stakes at $7.50 and finished a respectable fifth, two and three quarter lengths from the winner Good Project.
The Zabeel gelding was then sent around in the Kingston Town Classic and after leading faded to finish well back in fifteenth position behind Perfect Refection
“This time last year, he was very good in the Railway Stakes,” Maher said.
“He’s been out of form since, but obviously bounced back in the Kilmore Cup.”
The Darren Weir trained Rageese is another nominated for the Festival Stakes who is coming off an aborted trip to Perth.
Rageese actually made it to Perth to run in the Group 1 $1m James Boag’s Premium Railway Stakes (1600m) at Ascot on November 19 but was a race morning scratching because of a minor hoof problem.
Weir’s Warrnambool foreman Jarrod McLean has reported that Rageese has overcome the injury and will head to Sydney for a Villiers Stakes campaign.
Leading Sydney trainer Chris Waller has nominated three for the Festival Stakes, Amovatio, Marenostro and the in-form Religify.
Religify was rewarded for some consistent Spring form and after being placed on three occasions finally found the winner’s stall in a 1400m Handicap at Rosehill on November 19 beating the John O’Shea trained Duca Valentinois who is also nominated for the Festival Stakes.
Group 1 winner Famous Seamus is among the Festival Stakes nominations along with Pajaro and Extensible from the Team Snowden stable and the Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott trained Sweet Redemption.