The 2016 Aurie’s Star Handicap field has been released and 13 gallopers are set to contest the Group 3 event at Flemington on Saturday.
Smart Volatility is the only non-Victorian trained galloper that has been included in the Aurie’s Star Handicap acceptances and the Hong Kong import looks well placed to record his second consecutive victory.
Smart Volatility was sent to Australia after having bleeding problems in Hong Kong and he made his Australian racing debut with a seventh place finish in the Winter Dash (1200m) at Royal Randwick on June 25 before he recorded an impressive victory in the Listed Ramornie Handicap (1200m) at Grafton on July 13.
Trainer John Sargent elected to give Smart Volatility a barrier trial at Royal Randwick on July 29 in the lead-up to the Aurie’s Handicap and he showed good speed to beat a quality field, which included Winx.
The Aurie’s Star Handicap is often used by trainers to start the Spring Racing Carnival campaigns of some of their better gallopers and the 2016 edition of the race will be no exception.
The new training partnership of David Hayes, Ben Hayes and Tom Dabernig have included both Dibayani and Tashbeeh in the Aurie’s Star Handicap field, but Tashbeeh is expected to head to Adelaide for the Spring Stakes.
Dibayani is yet to record a race win in Australia, but he finished second behind Winx in the Group 1 Chipping Norton Stakes (1600m) at Royal Randwick on February 27 and he was competitive in the Group 1 Ranvet Stakes (1600m) at the same venue on March 16.
Other horses that are set to return to the races in the Aurie’s Star Handicap include Escado, Manageress, Mr Chard and Pheidon.
Another trainer that has multiple runners in the Aurie’s Star Handicap is leading Victoria trainer Darren Weir, who has included both Magnus Reign and Sooboog in the acceptances.
Magnus Reign has been stepped up in class after he finished second behind Mighty Like at Flemington on July 23, while Sooboog has been given a slight freshen-up after he finished fourth behind Lord Von Costa in the Listed Creswick Series Final (1200m) at Flemington on July 9.
Beirut will take winning form into the Aurie’s Star Handicap, but he has also been included in the acceptances for the Spring Stakes.
The 2016 Aurie’s Star Handicap field is rounded out by last start winners Ruettiger and Mighty Like as well as the lightly-raced five-year-old Just Magical.