The 2014 Epsom Handicap field has been released, with Boban set to carry the top weight of 58 kilograms in the Group 1 event at Royal Randwick on Saturday.
Boban stormed home late to record his maiden victory at Group 1 level in the Epsom Handicap last year and he has the chance to join the likes of Desert War (2004 and 2005), Super Impose (1990 and 1991) and Chatham (1932 and 1933) as the only horses to win the race in back-to-back years.
The Bernardini gelding has been unable to record a win during his 2014 Spring Racing Carnival campaign to date and he will return to Sydney racing after finishing fifth in the Group 1 Memsie Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield on August 30 and the Group 1 Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m) at Flemington on September 30.
Royal Descent will carry the second top-weight of 55 and a half kilograms in the Epsom Handicap and will be chasing her first race win since she took out the Group 1 Australian Oaks (2400m) during the 2013 Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival.
The Redoute’s Choice mare has finished second in the Group 2 Warwick Stakes (1400m), Group 2 Chelmsford Stakes (1600m) and Group 1 George Main Stakes (1600m) this preparation and trainer Chris Waller is desperate for the five-year-old to return to winning form.
Waller has a very strong hand in the 2014 Epsom Handicap field and he has also included Kingston Town Stakes winner He’s Your Man and imported galloper Lucky Chappy in the acceptances for the Group 1 event.
Toydini finished an unlucky third in the Epsom Handicap last year and he will also carry 55 and a half kilograms in the 2014 edition of the race.
The Bernardini gelding is still chasing a maiden race win at Group 1 level and will likely need to improve on his eighth place finish in the George Main Stakes to be any chance of taking out the Epsom Handicap this weekend.
Early Epsom Handicap favourite Rock Sturdy was ruled out of the Group 1 event due to a suspensory ligament injury suffered at trackwork this morning, but trainer Joe Pride still has Laser Hawk in the Epsom Handicap field.
Laser Hawk returned to the races after over a year off the scene in the Group 2 Missile Stakes (1200m) at Royal Randwick on August 9 and he finished at the tail of the field in the Group 2 Theo Marks Stakes (1400m) at Rosehill Gardens on September 13 before returning to a semblance of his best form with a brave front-running effort in the George Main Stakes.
One of the most interesting runners in the Epsom Handicap field is Star Rolling, who looks to get into the race well with only 53 kilograms on his back.
Star Rolling was set for the Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) after he took out the Group 2 P.B. Lawrence Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield on August 16, but connections have alerted their plans after the Casino Prince gelding failed to live up to expectations in the Group 2 Dato’ Tan Chin Nam Stakes (1600m) at Moonee Valley on September 6 and the Group 1 Underwood Stakes (1800m) at Caulfield on September 20.
Trainer David Payne has elected to run Honorius in the Epsom Handicap and he will carry 52 and a half kilograms, while Cameron Handicap winner Hooked, Team Hawkes-trained Ninth Legion, Queensland galloper Jetset Lad, the Gai Waterhouse-trained trio of Liberty’s Choice, Pheidon and Woodbine as well as Anthony Cummings-trained Spy Decoder will all carry the minimum weight of 52 kilograms.