The 2016 Canterbury Stakes nominations have been released and only eight horses have been included in the initial entries for the Group 1 event that will be held at Royal Randwick on Saturday.
Our Boy Malachi was set for the Canterbury Stakes following his dominant win in the Group 2 Expressway Stakes (1200m) at Rosehill Gardens on January 30 and he may never have a better chance to record a maiden win at the highest level of racing.
The Top Echelon gelding showed that he had suffered no long-term effects from the bleeding and colic attack that saw him miss the 2015 Spring Racing Carnival and he is likely to start the Canterbury Stakes as a short-priced favourite.
Another horse that is set to take winning form into the Canterbury Stakes is talented mare First Seal, who was also able to return from a lengthy break with a victory.
First Seal had not been seen at the races since she finished sixth in the Group 1 Queen Of The Turf Stakes (1600m) after a foot abscess ruined her 2015 Spring Racing Carnival campaign, but she returned to the races with an impressive victory in the Group 2 Millie Fox Stakes (1300m) at Rosehill Gardens on February 20.
The other last start winner in the Canterbury Stakes nominations is Happy Clapper, who has not been seen at the races since he took out the Group 2 Villiers Stakes (1600m) at Royal Randwick on December 12.
Happy Clapper was revelation during the summer racing period and he is set to follow a path to the Group 1 Doncaster Mile (1600m) after he returns to the races in the Canterbury Stakes this weekend.
One of the most interesting horses in the 2016 Canterbury Stakes nominations is four-time Group 1 winner Criterion, who finished third behind Cosmic Endeavour and Catkins in the race last year.
Criterion had 11 race starts at Group 1 level in 2015 and he was able to finish the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) and Group 1 Ladbrokes Caulfield Stakes (2000m), while he finished in the placings in the Canterbury Stakes, the Group 1 George Ryder Stakes (1500m), the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II Cup (2000m), the Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) and the Group 1 Melbourne Cup (3200m).
The son of Sebring is in his final racing preparation before he is retired to stud and he will press on to the George Ryder Stakes and the Queen Elizabeth Stakes following his return to racing this weekend.
Another Group 1 winner that is set to return to the races in the Canterbury Stakes is Kermadec, who has not been seen at the races since he failed to fire in the Cox Plate.
Kermadec stamped himself as the best miler in Australia when he took out the Group 1 George Main Stakes (1600m) at Royal Randwick on September 19, but he was unable to replicate that form when he stepped up to 2000 metres for the Ladbrokes Caulfield Stakes and the Cox Plate.
The 2016 Canterbury Stakes nominations are rounded out by Bachman, Ecuador and Holler.