While the main focus will be on the return of Winx in Sydney on Saturday afternoon, the Group 2 PB Lawrence Stakes (1400m) has drawn an outstanding field of fourteen to Caulfield Racecourse in Melbourne.
Veteran sprinter Lankan Rupee resumed for a smart second in the Group 3 Bletchingly Stakes (1200m) a fortnight ago and has drawn ideally into the PB Lawrence Stakes field in barrier 2.
A five-time Group 1 champion, Lankan Rupee’s career has been plagued by injury through recent seasons, but trainer Mick Price is confident that he is a picture of health and he will only improve second-up into the PB Lawrence Stakes field.
Regular hoop Craig Newitt will take the ride on the Redoute’s Choice gelding and while charged with carrying 59kgs, in on level weights all but three horses set to step out in Saturday’s Victorian feature race.
Trainer James Cummings has revealed that he will look to dodge Winx at all possible points with Hartnell this season, who will take his place in the PB Lawrence Stakes field first-up.
The Authorized gelding has been a strong and consistent performer throughout his entire racing career so-far, but undoubtedly found his best form to date through last year’s Spring Carnival.
Second behind Winx in the Group 2 Warwick Stakes (1400m) first-up, Hartnell progressed to dominant wins in each of the Group 2 Chelmsford Stakes (1600m), Group 2 Hill Stakes (2000m) and Group 1 Turnbull Stakes (2000m).
Again finishing second to the equine superstar in the Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m), albeit eight lengths off the pace, Hartnell ended his year third in the Melbourne Cup (3200m).
Producing several smart performances in autumn, including second-place finishes in the Group 1 Ranvet Stakes (2000m) and Group 1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) most notably, Hartnell is a proven first-up performer and should prove extremely difficult to beat in the PB Lawrence Stakes.
Black Heart Bart is another horse who has been outstanding throughout his entire racing career and has drawn ideally into the PB Lawrence Stakes field in barrier 5.
Winner of three Group 1 races in 2016, the Blackfriars gelding resumed this year for second in the Group 2 Australia Stakes (1200m) before posting consecutive wins in the Group 1 Ladbrokes CF Orr Stakes (1400m) and Group 1 Ladbrokes Futurity Stakes (1400m).
While failing to fire in either of the Group 1 The Goodwood (1200m) or Group 1 Darley Kingsford-Smith Cup (1300m), Black Heart Bart has reportedly relished his time away from racing and will relish the conditions of the PB Lawrence Stakes.
Big Spring Carnival campaigns are expected of the likes of Tosen Stardom, Humidor and He’s Our Rokkii and all three horses have been confirmed to resume in the 2017 PB Lawrence Stakes field.
Japanese import Tosen Stardom has only made three appearances for Darren Weir so-far, but has been strong and consistent and will enjoy the conditions of the PB Lawrence Stakes and Caulfield first-up.
Resuming this year for second in the Futurity Stakes, the Deep Impact entire was last seen finishing second behind Palentino in the Group 2 Blamey Stakes (1600m) on March 18th.
Humidor was outstanding through the recent Autumn Carnival, but may also require a run to find his best form this time.
Fourth in the Listed John Dillon Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield first-up on Australia Day, the Teofilo gelding won the Group 1 Australian Cup (2000m) most notably and ended his campaign second behind Jameka in the Group 1 The BMW (2400m).
He’s Our Rokkii failed to come up in the autumn, but loves racing in the spring and has drawn ideally into the PB Lawrence Stakes field in barrier 4.
The Roc De Cambes gelding won each of his first three starts upon resuming last spring, including the Group 1 Toorak Handicap (1600m).
Black Heart Bart is currently a $2.50 favourite in 2017 PB Lawrence Stakes betting markets at Ladbrokes.com.au.