Earlier, the Coolmore Stud Stakes (Race 5) over 1200m has attracted a crack field of three-year-old sprinters with Extreme Choice just shading Golden Rose winner Astern for favouritism at the time of writing.
Mick Price’s classy chestnut, whose only defeat thus far came in the Golden Slipper, returned to the track in emphatic fashion with a resounding win at weight-for-age level in the Moir Stakes at the end of September and has been kept on ice for the carnival ever since.
Never one to shy away from a challenge, the Caulfield-based Price has thrown down the gauntlet to the Sydney brigade by declaring his horse to be the ‘strongest finisher’.
The champion trainer offering a simple message to those believing the form from the harbour city to be superior, suggesting the local contingent will ‘spank them’ down the straight six.
At the Unibet headquarters, we reckon he’s a pretty handy galloper but we’re not entirely convinced about those sentiments and in a field of such high quality we’re keen to oppose him on the weekend.
Astern couldn’t have been more impressive in winning the Golden Rose and his surprise second-placed finish behind Russian Revolution in the Roman Consul must be put in its proper context given he was presented with mission impossible owing to the winner’s soft early sectionals.
Trainer John O’Shea didn’t appear concerned in the least by his colt’s defeat and in a racing environment where he’s far less likely to spot the leaders as much of a start we’ll be looking for him to finish over the top of them.
Star Turn has had the benefit of a run in Melbourne and he couldn’t have been more impressive in his dismissal of both Malaguerra and Fell Swoop in the Schillaci Stakes.
The Hawkes camp are said to be extremely happy with the way this colt is travelling heading into the race and he presents as a legitimate contender, with our traders keenly anticipating how the betting will play out amongst the leading trio come race day.
Of the others, Price will also be represented by Blue Sapphire Stakes winner Flying Artie, who filled a stable quinella in the Blue Diamond and is a dangerous floater.
Blake Shinn has been keen to talk up the chances of Slipper winner Capitalist given that he’ll likely encounter better track conditions here than the soft going which saw him scratched from the Manikato.