The 2016 Bellmaine Stakes field has been released and talented mare Azkadellia is set to return to the races in the Group 3 event at Caulfield on Saturday.
Azkadellia has had just nine race starts since she made her racing debut in New Zealand in July of 2014, but she has always been considered a filly that would be competitive at the highest level of racing and she proved that during the 2015 Spring Racing Carnival.
The Shinko King mare started her spring preparation with a win in the Watch On Mobile Handicap (1000m) at Ballarat on September 6, but she was beaten as an odds-on favourite in the Dad & Dave’s Turf Handicap (1200m) at Pakenham Park on September 23.
Azkadellia returned to winning form in the Condo’s Horse Transport Handicap (1400m) at Cranbourne and she produced outstanding closing sectionals in both the Group 3 G1x.Com.Au Stakes (1600m) at Moonee Valley on October 24 and the Group 1 Myer Classic (1600m) at Flemington on October 31 and was unlucky not to win either race.
Trainer Ciaron Maher is yet to decide on the major autumn target for Azkadellia, but she is likely to head to Sydney and she has been included in the nominations for the Group 1 Doncaster Mile (1600m), Group 1 Queen Of The Turf Stakes (1600m) and Group 1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m).
Azkadellia will carry just 55 kilograms under the Set Weights plus Penalties conditions of the Bellmaine Stakes and it will be Lindsay Park-trained Wawail that carries the top weight of 58 kilograms.
Wawail started her own spring campaign with a very flat performance behind Politeness in the Group 3 How Now Stakes (1200m) at Caulfield on September 19, but she went on to produce much improved performances to finish second in both the Group 3 Cape Grim Beef Steaks (1200m) at Caulfield on October 10 and the Group 3 Hong Kong Jockey Club Stakes (1400m) at Flemington on Melbourne Cup Day.
Jessy Belle, My Sister Lil, Felicienne and Amarela are also set to return to the races in the Bellmaine Stakes, but the rest of the field is set to have a clear fitness edge over their main rivals.
Shakespearean Lass, Tuscan Sling and Choose are all set to take winning form into the Bellmaine Stakes, while Nadeem Lass returned to the races with a fast-finishing third behind Bullpit and Pink Perfection in the Tauto Handicap (1000m) at Flemington on January 16.