The 2014 Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes is set to be one of the strongest races of the 2014 Spring Racing Carnival after 18 talented gallopers were included in the nominations for the Group 1 event that were released this afternoon.
Hong Kong-trained star Dan Excel has been included in the Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes nominations and is set to make his Australian racing debut in the $400,000 event at Caulfield on Sunday.
Dan Excel has competed at the highest level of racing in both Hong Kong and Singapore in the last 18 months and he took out the Group 1 Champions Mile (1600m) in Hong Kong last year before stamping himself as a genuine weight-for-age start with an impressive victory in the Group 1 Singapore Airlines International Cup (2000m).
The Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley is the 2014 Spring Racing Carnival goal for Dan Excel and he will run in the Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes and Group 1 Toorak Handicap (1600m) before heading into the Australasian Weight-For-Age Championship.
Another horse heading towards the Cox Plate is Peter Moody-trained Dissident who has been the star performer of the 2014 Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival to date.
Dissident started his campaign with a most impressive victory in the Group 1 Memsie Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield on August 30 and proved that performance was no fluke when he took out the Group 1 Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m) at Flemington on September 13.
The Sebring entire will drop back in trip for the Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes before stepping up to 2000 metres for the Group 1 Caulfield Stakes (2000m) on October 11 heading into the Cox Plate a week later.
Sweet Idea finished second behind Dissident in the Memsie Stakes and will have the opportunity to turn-the-tables on her rival in the Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes.
Trainer Gai Waterhouse has also included Sweet Idea in the nominations for the Group 1 Moir Stakes (1400m), but she is expected to run the Snitzel mare in the Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes as it gives her the best possible chance of recording a maiden Group 1 victory.
One of the most interesting horses in the 2014 Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes nominations is Paul Messara-trained three-year-old Scissor Kick, who has also been included in the nominations for the Group 2 Stutt Stakes (1600m) at Moonee Valley on Friday night and the Group 2 Stan Fox Stakes (1500m) at Rosehill Gardens on Saturday.
Scissor Kick took out the Listed The Rosebud (1200m) and Group 3 Up And Coming Stakes, but finished a tight second behind Hallowed Crown after being trapped four wide in the early stages of the Group 1 Golden Rose Stakes (1400m).
Peter Moody won the 2012 Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes with Moment Of Change and could have multiple runners in the 2014 edition of the race after including A Time For Julia and Flamberge in the nominations.
Progressive gelding Akavoroun, Tony Gollan-trained Alma’s Fury, last start winner Atlante, Chris Waller-trained Bull Point, Theo Marks Stakes winner Cluster, consistent mare Gig and Group 1 placegetter Speediness are other key Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes nominations.