The 2015 Queen Of The Turf Stakes field has been released and a number of the most talented mares in Australia are set to contest the Group 1 event at Royal Randwick on Saturday.
Catkins has been one of the most consistent mares in Australia over the past two years, but she is still chasing a maiden win at Group 1 level and will have the opportunity to do so this weekend.
The Dubawi mare has previously been placed at Group 1 level on four occasions and is taking outstanding form into this year’s edition of the Queen Of The Turf Stakes after winning the Group 2 Breeders Classic (1200m), Group 2 Millie Fox Quality (1300) and Group 2 Emancipation Stakes (1500m), while she finished a game second behind Cosmic Endeavour in the Group 1 Canterbury Stakes (1300m).
Cosmic Endeavour beat Catkins in the Canterbury Stakes, but she subsequently failed to fire in the Group 1 George Ryder Stakes (1500m) and Group 1 Doncaster Mile (1600m) and there is still a major question mark over her ability to run out a strong mile.
The two-time Group 1 winning mare will be joined in the 2015 Queen Of The Turf Stakes field by stablemates Diamond Drille and Amanpour.
Diamond Drille scored an upset win in the Queen Of The Turf Stakes last year and will have the opportunity to join champion mare More Joyous as the only horse to win the race in back-to-back years, but will need to improve on her effort in the Doncaster Mile.
Amanpour started her autumn campaign with an unlucky sixth in the Group 3 Wenona Girl Quality (1200m), but she produced a strong effort to chase home Catkins in the Emancipation Stakes at her last start.
Murray Baker is another trainer that will have multiple runners in the 2015 Queen Of The Turf Stakes field and both Diademe and Sports Illustrated are set to make their Sydney racing debuts.
Diademe is taking winning form into the Queen Of The Turf Stakes after she defeated her stablemate to win the Group 1 Breeders Classic (1600m) at Te Aroha on April 4, while Sports Illustrated has performed consistently without winning at the highest level of racing.
No filly has won the Queen Of The Turf Stakes since Forensics took out the 2008 edition of the race, but talented three-year-old First Seal will have the chance to end that drought this weekend.
First Seal was touted as the potential star of the 2015 Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival when she took out the Group 2 Surround Stakes (1400m), but she has since been beaten as an odd-on favourite in the Group 1 Coolmore Classic (1500m) and the Group 1 Vinery Stud Stakes (2000m).
The Fastnet Rock filly was round to have blood present in her near-side nostril after the Vinery Stud Stakes and she was forced to gallop in front of Racing New South Wales stewards this morning before she was passed fit to run this weekend.
One of the most interesting horses in the Queen Of The Turf Stakes field is imported mare Noble Protector, who has been flawless in two race starts to date this preparation.
Noble Protector started her autumn campaign with a dominant four and a half lengths victory in the Group 3 Schweppervescence Trophy (1600m) at Flemington on March 14 and she never looked like being beaten when she led from start to finish in the Group 2 Sunline Stakes (1600m) at Moonee Valley on March 27.
Another horse that will be making the trip from Melbourne to Sydney for the Queen Of The Turf Stakes is Bonaria, who scored a maiden win at Group 1 level when she took out the Group 1 Myer Classic (1600m) at Flemington on Victoria Derby Day last year.
Bonaria started her autumn preparation with a very good effort in the Group 3 Bellmaine Stakes (1200m) at Caulfield on February 14, but she has since produced below par efforts in the Group 3 Premier Signs Stakes (1400m) and the Schweppervescence Trophy.
The 2015 Queen Of The Turf Stakes field is rounded out by Team Snowden-trained Gypsy Diamond (barrier 12), Kiwi mare Hera (barrier 14) and the Chris Waller-trained duo of Telepathic (barrier five) and Amicus (barrier nine).