The 2014 Warwick Stakes field has been released, with nine Group 1 winners as well as Messene and Weary set to contest the Group 2 event at Royal Randwick on Saturday.
Leading Sydney trainer Chris Waller always has a strong hand in the Warwick Stakes and he will have five runners in the field for the $175,000 race this weekend.
Sacred Falls (barrier five), Royal Descent (barrier two) and My Kingdom Of Fife (barrier one) will all be returning to the races for the first time since running in the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) at Royal Randwick on April 19, but have all been given two barrier trial starts before the start of their spring campaigns.
Boban (barrier nine) resumed with a fast-finishing fourth in the Group 2 Missile Stakes (1200m), after missing the start, but he may not take his place in the Warwick Stakes field if the track is heavily affected by rain.
Weary (barrier three) also returned to racing in the Missile Stakes and finished a credible fifth in a performance that indicates that he may be looking for more ground; with Waller confident that the imported galloper will relish the conditions of the Warwick Stakes this weekend.
Hawkspur (barrier six) was also able to make up ground in the final stages of the Missile Stakes and he produced an outstanding performance when he took out the Group 2 Chelmsford Stakes (1600m) second-up last spring.
Also backing up from the Missile Stakes in the Warwick Stakes will be runner-up Messene and Joseph Pride-trained Laser Hawk.
Messene (barrier seven) looked like the winner when he challenged Sweet Idea in the final stages of the Missile Stakes, but was unable to get past the tough mare and finished a gallant second in a performance that delighted Team Hawkes.
The Lonhro gelding will appreciate the step-up to 1400 metres, but he failed to fire on a wet track in the Group 1 Doncaster Mile (1600m) at Royal Randwick on April 12 and could be removed from the field if the track is rated in the heavy range.
Laser Hawk (barrier 11) had his first race start for over a year in the Missile Stakes, after being sidelined due to a tendon injury and was far from disgraced in the 1200 metre event.
The Artie Schiller gelding will be joined in the Warwick Stakes field by stablemate Tiger Tees, who started his spring campaign with a narrow win in the Group 3 Aurie’s Star Handicap (1200m) at Flemington on August 9.
Tiger Tees (barrier ten) is considered one of the best wet tracks performers in Australia and he won the Group 1 The Galaxy (1100m), finished third in the Group 1 All Aged Stakes (1400m) and fourth in the Group 1 T.J. Smith Stakes (1200m) on rain affected surfaces during the 2014 Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival.
Another galloper in the Warwick Stakes field that has shown a liking to wet tracks is the resuming Criterion.
Criterion (barrier four) won the Group 1 Rosehill Guineas (2000m) and Group 1 Australian Derby (2400m) on wet tracks during the 2014 Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival and has impressed onlookers with a strong third in a barrier trial at Rosehill Gardens on July 21.
The Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) is the major 2014 Spring Racing Carnival target for Criterion, but the son of Sebring has the ability to sprint well fresh at the start of his preparation.
The Cox Plate is also the spring target for Peter Moody-trained Dissident, who will be returning to the races for the first time since he finished 12th in the Group 1 Doncaster Mile (1600m) at Royal Randwick on April 12.
Dissident (barrier eight) was sent to the spelling paddock in Queensland and performed well in two barrier trials at Doomben and Royal Randwick ahead of the start of his spring preparation.
The Royal Randwick track is currently rated a heavy eight and looks unlikely to improve before the Warwick Stakes meeting on Saturday.