Trainer David Payne is hoping that Lilliburlero can stamp herself as a Group 1 contender during the 2015 Autumn Racing Carnival by taking out the Listed Starlight Stakes (1100m) at Rosehill Gardens on Saturday.
Lilliburlero was a consistent performer at Group level during the 2014 Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival, with her campaign highlighted by a maiden win at Group level in the Group 3 Triscay Stakes (1200m) at Royal Randwick on February 22, and she returned to racing with a fast-finishing third in the Group 3 Mumm Stakes (1100m) at Flemington on Crown Oaks Day.
While Lilliburlero was beaten by three and a half lengths by the talented Vain Queen, Payne believes that the Redoute’s Choice mare had no luck whatsoever in the Mumm Stakes and told TVN that the talented mare could have won the race with some luck in running.
“I know she got beaten three and a half lengths, but she was very unlucky,” Payne said.
“She missed the break, she got squeezed out and she was disappointed for a run.
“I think she would have been right there with the winner.”
Payne expects jockey Glyn Schofield to settle Lilliburlero towards the tail of the field in the early stages of the 2014 Starlight Stakes, but the veteran trainer feels that the hot early tempo expected in the Listed race will give the five-year-old every possible chance to hit the line strongly and return to winning form.
The Listed Razor Sharp Stakes (1200m) at Royal Randwick on December 13 looms as an option for Lilliburlero, Payne said that he could elect to send Lilliburlero for a freshen up in the spelling paddock before a tilt at the highest level of racing during the Melbourne Festival Of Racing.
The Group 1 Oakleigh Plate (1100m) at Caulfield in February and the Group 1 Newmarket Handicap (1200m) at Flemington in March both loom as possible targets for Lilliburlero, while she is also a chance of returning to Sydney for the Group 1 The Galaxy (1100m) during the 2014 Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival.
Lilliburlero opened at Starlight Stakes odds of $10, but has been a clear market mover in the betting market for the $100,000 race with Ladbrokes Australia and is now into a quote of $8.
Team Hawkes-trained Our Boy Malachi remains a clear favourite in Starlight Stakes betting markets, but has been on the drift in the past 24 hours and is out to $2.60, while there has been a sprinkling of support for Gerald Ryan-trained Dothraki ($5.50).