A talented field of 20 has been nominated for an appearance in this weekend’s 2014 Group 2 Sapphire Stakes (1200m) on day 2 of The Championships at Royal Randwick, including Avoid Lightning.
Securing an impressive seven wins and four places from only 18 race starts to date, Avoid Lightning is a proven performer over autumn events; finishing outside the places in just one of six starts throughout the 2013 season, which also included an impressive win in the Listed W.J. Adams Stakes (1000m).
Returning to the track in competitive form this time in, the Blevic mare was unlucky when blocked for a run and fifth in the Group 3 Roy Higgins Tribute Quality (1200m) first-up on March 15th and returned to the winner’s circle with a strong turn of foot to beat fellow Sapphire Stakes nominee Plucky Belle to the line in the Group 3 Birthday Card Stakes (1200m) last time out.
Unlucky when blocked for a run twice and squeezed out in the Birthday Card Stakes Plucky Belle will be aiming to re-find the form which delivered an impressive one-and-a-half-length victory in the Group 3 Lavazza Short Black (1400m) on Melbourne Cup day last preparation.
Amassing a total of four wins and five places from 18 race starts to date, Plucky Belle has also been included in nominations for the major Group 1 Queen Of The Turf Stakes (1600m) on Saturday, with trainer Peter Moody to make a final decision on which avenue the Mossman mare will take following Tuesday’s barrier draws.
Arguably hitting career best form in 2014, Lilliburlero stands as trainer David Payne’s sole entrant in the 2014 Sapphire Stakes.
Unable to string together much of a consistent run of form over the spring of 2013 despite claiming a minor win over 1400 metres, Lilliburlero produced an impressive turn of foot to finish nearly two lengths in the clear of fellow Sapphire Stakes nominee Recoinage in the Group 3 Triscay Stakes (1200m) first-up before again sprinting well to finish second behind A Time For Julia in the Group 3 Roy Higgins Tribute (1200m) on March 15th.
While pipped on the line for a place and fifth in the Group 3 Sebring Stakes (1200m) on Golden Slipper day, the Redoute’s Choice mare has reportedly taken to work well over the last fortnight and will line up for the 2014 Sapphire Stakes in good order.
A particularly consistent performer in Group level events this season, Recoinage followed up her strong run for second in the Triscay Stakes with a spirited fight for third in the Roy Higgins Tribute, before also being pipped on the line for fourth in the Birthday Card Stakes last time out.
Confirmed to return to the spelling paddock following the 2014 Sapphire Stakes, trainer Joseph Pride is confident of a maiden victory at Group level for the Flying Spur mare this weekend.
Producing a particularly strong 2014 spring campaign which delivered victories in the Group 2 Silver Shadow Stakes (1200m) and Group 3 Champagne Stakes (1200m) most notably, Thump has been unable to find consistent form this season; bookending an impressive victory in the Group 2 Surround Stakes (1400m) with disappointing runs for seventh and eighth in the Group 2 Light Fingers Stakes (1200m) and Group 1 William Reid Stakes (1200m) respectively.
Also included in nominations for the Queen Of The Turf and Group 2 Royal Sovereign Stakes (1200m) this weekend, trainer Kris Lees has revealed the Sapphire is a far more realistic option for the Red Ransom filly this weekend.
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2014 Sapphire Stakes Nominations
|2||AVOID LIGHTNING||Les Bridge||101|
|3||BELLE DE COEUR||Luke Price||71|
|4||COSMIC ENDEAVOUR||Gai Waterhouse||86|
|6||FULL OF SPIRIT||Peter G Moody||100|
|8||LUCKY NEWS||Kristen Buchanan||69|
|9||MAGNA AMICA||Tracey Bartley||68|
|11||PERON||John P Thompson||98|
|12||PLUCKY BELLE||Peter G Moody||99|
|15||SIMPLY BRILLIANT||Bjorn Baker||73|
|16||SINGLE STYLE (NZ)||Gary Portelli||87|
|18||SWEET IDEA||Gai Waterhouse||106|
|20||VILLA SPLENDIDO||Garry White||72|