The 2014 Missile Stakes field has been released and the Group 2 event at Royal Randwick on Saturday is set to be a key form race for the 2014 Spring Racing Carnival after nine Group 1 contenders were included in the acceptances.
Leading Sydney trainer Chris Waller included five horses in the nominations for the Group 2 Missile Stakes and he is set to have three runners in the $175,000 event after including Boban, Hawkspur and Weary in the final field.
Hawkspur (barrier three) and Boban (barrier five) will both be returning to the races for the first time since they failed to fire in the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) at Royal Randwick on April 19, while will be having his first race start since he finished his autumn campaign with placings in both the Group 1 Doncaster Mile (1600m) and Group 1 All Aged Stakes (1400m) at Royal Randwick.
Another horse that will be returning to the races in the Missile Stakes for the first time since the Doncaster Mile is Team Hawkes-trained Messene.
Messene (barrier one) went into the Doncaster Mile as favourite after recording seven straight victories and finished a brave seventh despite never handling the heavy Royal Randwick track.
Co-trainer Michael Hawkes has been happy with the progress that Messene has made ahead of the start of his 2014 Spring Racing Carnival campaign and he is confident that the son of Lonhro still has the speed to be competitive in the Missile Stakes this weekend.
Talented sprinter Rebel Dane was only given a brief stint in the spelling paddock after he finished a tough seventh in the Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap (1400m) at Eagle Farm on June 7 and trainer Gary Portelli believes that the California Dane entire is primed for the Missile Stakes.
Rebel Dane (barrier four) started his 2014 Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival campaign with a most impressive second place finish behind Lankan Rupee in the Group 1 T.J. Smith Stakes (1200m) at Royal Randwick on April 12, but he was unable to record a race win in the All Aged Stakes, Group 1 Doomben 10,000 (1350m) or Stradbroke Handicap.
While Rebel Dane was given a short stint in the spelling paddock, Kirramosa will be returning to the races for the first time since she took out the Group 1 Crown Oaks (2500m) during the 2013 Spring Racing Carnival.
Kirramosa (barrier two) was ruled out of the Group 1 Australian Oaks (2400m) due to a fetlock issue, but trainer John Sargent believes that may have been a blessing in disguise for the Alamosa mare and he is confident that she is ready for a big spring preparation.
Laser Hawk (barrier eight) has spent even longer away from the races due to a range of injury problems, but he is set to make his debut for the Joe Pride stable in the Missile Stakes.
The Artie Schiller gelding has not been seen at the races since he finished 11th in the 2013 edition of the Group 1 George Ryder Stakes (1500m), but Pride is hoping that the six-year-old can return to the form that he showed when he took out the Group 1 Rosehill Guineas (2000m) and finished third in the Group 1 Australian Derby (2400m) during the 2012 Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival.
Talented mares Thump and Sweet Idea met on a couple of occasions during their autumn preparations and they are set to do battle again in the Missile Stakes this weekend.
Sweet Idea had the measure of Thump in the Group 2 Light Fingers Stakes (1200m) at Royal Randwick on February 22, but Thump was able to turn-the-tables on Sweet Idea at big odds in the Group 2 Surround Stakes (1400m) at Warwick Farm on March 8.
The 2013 Missile Stakes contained just six horses and was won in dominant fashion by Joe Pride-trained Rain Affair.