Veteran mare Hi Belle has the opportunity to become the first horse in history to win the Group 3 Summoned Stakes (1600m) on two occasions when she contests the upgraded event at Caulfield on Saturday.
Hi Belle won the 2011 edition of the Summoned Stakes and finished a brave fourth behind Cabernet in last year’s race; with trainer John Gunning electing to set his star mare for her third straight crack at the race.
The daughter of Clangalang started her 2013 Spring Racing Carnival campaign with a most impressive second place finish behind Catkins in the Group 3 How Now Stakes (1200m) but was slightly outclassed in both the Group 2 Blazer Stakes (1410m) and the Group 2 Tristarc Stakes (1400m).
Gunning made the decision to freshen Hi Belle up for the Summoned Stakes this weekend and believes that the seven-year-old will be better suited over a mile in a slightly lower grade this weekend.
“I have opted to give her a brief freshen-up,” Gunning told Racing Ahead on RSN.
“She races well fresh; I discussed it with Craig and we thought we would freshen her and set her for the Summoned.
“She won it two years back and she ran fourth in it last year and she has drawn a nice gate so hopefully our luck might change.
“I think that she will be a bit closer over a mile and hopefully that way she can unleash a strong finish.”
Hi Belle is rated a $14 outsider in Summoned Stakes betting markets and Gunning admits that the tough mare is getting a bit long in the tooth but still rates her a chance to record her race win, since her triumph in the 2012 Group 3 Mannerism Stakes (1400m) last February, on Saturday.
“She is good and I am very happy with her,” Gunning said.
“The form out of the races that she has been in is excellent form and she has never given us any signs that she has trained off or not come back as good as she was.
“She is seven now and she is not going to get any better; the new kids on the block are a bit better and that is why she didn’t go into the Myer Classic.
“I thought that I was better off aiming a little bit lower and have another crack at the Summoned.
“She is very honest and it would be nice to go there and finish this prep with a win.”