A total of 96 three-year-olds have been included in nominations for the 2014 Group 1 Spring Champion Stakes (2000m), to be contested at Royal Randwick on October 11th.
Yet to register anything but success over three competitive race starts so far, trainer Gai Waterhouse has included Group 1 champion Almalad in nominations for the 2014 Spring Champion Stakes.
Securing a comfortable victory in the Nuturf Plate Maiden (1000m) on debut in late December, the Al Maher gelding more than stamped his claims as one to watch through 2014 when charging home to win the TAB Early Quaddie Plate (1200m) by close to four lengths over a classy field on May 24th, before breaking through for a maiden victory at the highest level of Australian racing in the Group 1 J.J. Atkins (1600m) at Brisbane’s Eagle Farm Racecourse most recently on June 7th.
Confirmed to be geared towards the featured Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley on October 25th, Almalad is set to return to racing in this weekend’s Group 3 The Run To The Rose (1200m) at Rosehill Gardens, and will first target the Group 1 Golden Rose Stakes (1400m) before setting his sights on further Group 1 events.
Figuring as the only other nominee to have secured a Group 1 victory so-far, trainer Gerald Ryan has included Peggy Jean in the provisional list of 96 for the 2014 Spring Champion Stakes, along with classy stable mates Bachman and Washington Heights.
Overcoming poor running position to finish second behind Nayeli in the 2014 ATC Membership On Sale Fillies Maiden (1000m) on debut, Peggy Jean continued to build in class and form on her way to second in the Group 2 Magic Night Stakes (1200m) on March 15th before securing an exceptional half-length victory in the Group 1 ATC Sires’ Produce Stakes (1400m) at Randwick on April 12th.
Returning to the paddock after finishing fifth in the Group 1 Champagne Stakes (1600m) on April 26th, Ryan is yet to settle on a path for the Myboycharlie filly through the 2014 Spring Racing Carnival, with a stop-off in the Group 1 Spring Champion Stakes a realistic prospect.
While beating only a single runner home in the Champagne Stakes most recently, exciting colt Bachman displayed distinct talent over five starts through his maiden racing preparation.
Finishing fourth amongst classy company in the Listed Canonbury Stakes (1100m) on debut, the son of All American finished third in a minor event over 1200m on March 5th before securing back-to-back victories in the TAB Iphone App 2.y.o (1300m) and Group 3 The Schweppervescence (1400m) leading into the Champagne Stakes.
Finishing second in just two competitive race starts so far, Washington Heights began his racing career in the late stages of the 2014 autumn season, returning to the paddock after finishing second to fellow Spring Champion Stakes nominee Hallowed Crown in the Group 3 Kindergarten Stakes (1100m) on April 12th and returning for second in the Group 3 San Domenico Stakes (1100m) on August 16th.
Registering as one of just two Bart & James Cummings-trained runners included in Spring Champion Stakes nominations along with Sultry Feeling, Hallowed Crown appears on track for a strong and competitive spring campaign, having followed up his perfect racing record of two wins from as many starts in autumn with an impressive pair of barrier trials in august.
Returning to racing with a three length victory at Canterbury on August 20th, Sultry Feeling ran third in the Magic Night Stakes most notably on March 29th, securing a commendable total of two wins and a place from five starts.
Godolphin is set to be offered several good chances of success in the 2014 Spring Champion Stakes, nominating a total of seven three-year-olds, highlighted by the likes of Ghibellines and Meursault.
A strong and consistent performer through autumn, Ghibellines won the Group 2 Todman Stakes (1200m) with relative ease on March 22nd, placing a credible eighth in the Group 1 Golden Slipper (1200m) last time out on April 5th.
While disappointing when only managing sixth in the Group 3 Up And Coming Stakes (1300m) first-up on August 23rd, trainer John O’Shea is confident Meursault will be far better for the run, and is expecting several Group 1 berths for the colt this time in.