The 2015 Melbourne Festival Of Racing is just around the corner and a number of possible Group 1 contenders will move closer to a return to racing when they contest the barrier trials at Cranbourne tomorrow.
The opening barrier trial of the morning will be run over 990 metres and has drawn a capacity field of 12 runners, including three Group 1 hopefuls from the Robert Smerdon stable.
Caulfield Classic winner Fontein Ruby and imported galloper Noble Protector will both be making their first public appearances since the 2014 Spring Racing Carnival, while talented mare Politeness will be having her second jump out this preparation.
Ken Keys will also have two runners in the opening trial in the form of Bring Something and Like A Carousel and popular trainer Pat Hyland will be represented by his star mare Bonaria, who has not been seen at the races since she flew home late to win the Group 1 Myer Classic (1600m) at Flemington on Victoria Derby Day.
The standout in the second trial of the morning over 800 metres is Godolphin-trained filly Earthquake.
Earthquake was the star juvenile of the 2014 Autumn Racing Carnival, winning the Group 1 Blue Diamond Stakes (1200m) and Group 2 Reisling Stakes (1200m) before she finished second in the Group 1 Golden Slipper (1200m), but she made a slow start to her spring campaign.
The Exceed And Excel filly returned to winning form in the Group 3 Thoroughbred Club Stakes (1200m) at Caulfield on October 11 and she was not disgraced when she finished eighth when she was caught on the wrong side of the track in the Group 1 Coolmore Stud Stakes (1200m).
Co-trainers Peter Morgan and Craig Widdison will be paying close attention to the third barrier trial of the morning over 800 metres after including stable starts Star Rolling and Eloping in the acceptances.
Star Rolling suffered a muscle tear when he finished tenth in the Group 1 Mackinnon Stakes (2000m) at Flemington on November 1, but Widdison believes that the Casino Prince gelding has recovered from the injury and is in store for a big autumn campaign.
“He is great,” Widdison told RSN this morning.
“He had that little issue where he tore a muscle in his backend twice now – once in the Cranbourne Cup and his last run for us.
“Touch wood he seems in great order this time and I can’t wait to see how he goes this prep.”
Moonga Stakes runner-up Under The Louvre, talented mare Griante, Godolphin gelding Champollion and the Robbie Griffiths-trained duo of Grane and Horacio have also been included in the acceptances for the third barrier trial of the morning.