The 2015 Apollo Stakes field has been released and leading Sydney trainer Chris Waller is set to have six of the 15 runners in the Group 2 event at Royal Randwick this afternoon.
Weary returned to racing with an impressive win in the Group 2 Expressway Stakes (1200m) at Rosehill Gardens on January 31 and the imported galloper will have the chance to replicate the feat of Appearance last year and complete the Expressway Stakes/Apollo Stakes double.
Stablemates Boban and Hawkspur will also be backing up from the Expressway Stakes, while veteran gelding Foreteller, Epsom Handicap winner He’s Your Man and disqualified The Metropolitan winner Junoob will be returning to the races for the first time since the 2014 Spring Racing Carnival.
Another horse that will be returning to the races for the first time since her spring campaign is star Kiwi mare Silent Achiever.
Silent Achiever made a slow start to her spring preparation, but she returned to her best form with a close third place finish in the Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) and was one of the star performers of the 2014 Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival after taking out both the Group 1 Ranvet Stakes (2000m) and Group 1 The BMW (2400m).
The O’Reilly mare will be joined in the 2015 Apollo Stakes field by fellow Kiwi-bred galloper Lucia Valentina, who will be partnered by leading Sydney hoop Hugh Bowman.
Lucia Valentina failed to stay out the trip strongly in the Group 1 Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington on November 4 last year, but trainer Kris Lees is thrilled with the way that the Savabeel mare has bounced back from her tough run and believes that she is in for a big autumn preparation.
One of the most interesting runners in the 2015 Apollo Stakes field is Godolphin imported galloper Contributer, who will be having just his third race start in Australia.
Contributer made his Australian racing debut with an impressive win in the Group 3 David Jones Cup (2000m) at Caulfield on October 18 and he was far from disgraced in the Group 1 Emirates Stakes (1600m) at Flemington on November 8.
The High Chaparral entire impressed onlookers with his performance in two barrier trials at Royal Randwick on January 15 and February 2 and he has been set for either the Group 1 Australian Cup (2000m) or Group 1 Ranvet Stakes (2000m) during his autumn campaign.
One horse that will have a clear fitness edge over his rivals in the Apollo Stakes is Gerald Ryan-trained Red Excitement.
Red Excitement returned to racing after a lengthy stint in the spelling paddock with a narrow win in the Drummond Golf Handicap (1400m) at Rosehill Gardens on December 20 and he scored a very tough win in the Listed Chester Manifold Stakes (1400m) at Flemington on January 17.
Ryan has big plans for Red Excitement during the autumn and he feels that the Excites gelding could progress to the Australian Cup if he performs well in the Apollo Stakes.
The 2015 Apollo Stakes field is rounded out by last start winner Ninth Legion (barrier 13), Steve Englebrecht-trained Malavio (barrier three), imported stayer Disclaimer (barrier four), Queen Of The Turf Stakes winner Diamond Drille (barrier one) and Gai Waterhouse-trained Queenstown (barrier 12).