The 2014 Chipping Norton Stakes field has been released; with New Zealand superstar It’s A Dundeel confirmed to make his eagerly anticipated return to racing in the Group 1 event this weekend.
It’s A Dundeel has not been seen at the races since he finished a disappointing eighth in the 2013 Cox Plate (2040m) in October last year, but according to connections he is in fantastic physical condition ahead of his racing return.
The High Chaparral entire is set to have four race starts during the 2014 Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival and will contest the Group 1 Ranvet Stakes (2000m) at Rosehill Gardens on March 22, the Group 1 The BMW (2400m) on April 5 and the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) at Royal Randwick on April 19 after running in the Chipping Norton Stakes this weekend.
It’s A Dundeel will jump from the inside barrier and is expected to start the 2014 Chipping Norton Stakes as a clear favourite, but there are a number of talented horses in the final field including the Chris Waller-trained trio of Boban, Hawkspur and Moriarty.
Boban (barrier four) was the star of the 2013 Spring Racing Carnival, winning both the Group 1 Epsom Handicap (1600m) and Group 1 Emirates Stakes (1600m), but has struggled since returning to the races for his autumn campaign.
The Bernardini gelding did not show his usual explosive turn-of-foot when he was asked for an extra effort in the Group 2 Expressway Stakes (1200m) and was disappointing when fourth behind Appearance in the Group 2 Apollo Stakes (1400m) at Royal Randwick on February 22.
Hawkspur (barrier five) also failed to fire first-up in the Group 1 Orr Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield on February 8, while Moriarty (barrier seven) showed that he could be ready for a big autumn with a fast finishing third in the Apollo Stakes.
Gai Waterhouse will also have multiple runners in the Chipping Norton Stakes; with both Glencadam Gold and Order Of The Sun set to contest the Group 1 event.
Order Of The Sun (barrier eight) will be making his Group 1 event in the Chipping Norton Stakes following his strong first-up win in the Klink Handicap (1600m) at Royal Randwick on February 8 and will be ridden by the in-form Tommy Berry from the outside gate.
Glencadam Gold (barrier six) will be returning to the races for the first time since he finished fourteenth behind Fawkner in the Caulfield Cup and Waterhouse will be hoping that he can improve on his poor effort in the 2013 edition of the race where he failed to beat home a single runner.
Rounding out the 2014 Chipping Norton Stakes field are veteran gelding Monton (barrier two) and progressive stayer Prince Cheri (barrier three).