A Godolphin galloper being spruiked as a genuine Golden Slipper chance in Sydney this autumn, Plague Stone will kick off his campaign in Melbourne on Saturday as favourite in Caulfield’s Group 3 $200,000 Ladbrokes Blue Diamond Prelude (C&G).
One of two Prelude races leading towards the Group 1 $1.5 million Ladbrokes Blue Diamond Stakes (1200m) on February 24, this weekend’s 1100m sprint for the colts and geldings has drawn a final field of 14 young hopefuls.
Sitting top of the current Blue Diamond Prelude (C&G) odds at race sponsor Ladbrokes.com.au is the returning James Cummings-trained Lonhro colt Plague Stone ($3.60).
Drawn a treat first-up in barrier four with dual Blue Diamond Stakes winning jockey Kerrin McEvoy aboard, the up-and-comer is also the $8 co-favourite with Long Leaf in all-in odds for the Group 1 in a fortnight.
As well as that, the bookmakers are also taking no early chances with Plague Stone in futures betting on Rosehill’s Group 1 $3.5 million Golden Slipper Stakes (1200m) on March 24 following a brilliant heat win on February 1.
Plague Stone and McEvoy lined-up over 807m at Warwick Farm for the horse’s first public appearance of the year, winning the trial by nearly four lengths in slick time.
The chance to bring that form to race day now awaits as Saturday’s favourite has his first start since a second behind Secret Lady at Rosehill on debut in the $150,000 Golden Gift (1100m) as the beaten odds-on favourite last November.
After Plague Stone, the other shortest-priced of the Blue Diamond Prelude colts and geldings running on Saturday in the early Blue Diamond Group 1 odds is Ollivander.
Prepared by Mathew Ellerton & Simon Zahra, the Charge Forward colt won at the Caulfield track on debut back in mid-December before a second to Long Leaf in the Listed $150,000 Blue Diamond Preview (1000m) on January 27.
Jockey Chris Symons retains the ride on Ollivander this weekend where the $4.20 second favourite gets the chance to return to winning form.
The other best out of the Blue Diamond C&G Preview is Tony McEvoy’s third placegetter Run Naan.
Suffering his first defeat a fortnight ago, the Makfi colt was two and a quarter lengths off the winner and will be fitter second-up on Saturday having finished off well fresh.
A Bendigo winner last October, Run Naan is best known for his Group 3 Maribyrnong Plate (1000m) win at Flemington at his second career start during November’s Melbourne Cup Carnival.
An early market mover for the Blue Diamond Prelude (C&G) this Melbourne Autumn Racing Carnival is Native Soldier chasing a third win on the trot.
The sole Darren Weir-trained galloper in the mix, Native Solider is a well-bred Sepoy colt who has had four career runs overall for a 50% winning strike rate.
After saluting at Geelong on Boxing Day the chestnut returned at Moonee Valley on Australia Day and blitzed his rivals by nearly three lengths over 1000m, Mark Zahra back on board this weekend.
Other notable juveniles in the line-up include High Ratio for dual Blue Diamond Stakes winning trainer Mick Price and Written By, an impressive trial winner on Monday at Cranbourne, with the two outside barriers to overcome.
2018 Ladbrokes Blue Diamond Prelude (C&G) Final Acceptances: Run Naan (9), Ollivander (2), Written By (14), Bionics (3), Native Soldier (8), Plague Stone (4), Seberate (12), High Ratio (3), Ben Hercules (5), Hinchrider (1), Halvorsen (6), John Booke (10), The Running Man (7), Titan Blinders (11).