A talented field of 13 has been confirmed to line up for the 2014 Group 2 Sapphire Stakes (1200m) on day 2 of The Championships at Royal Randwick this weekend, including in-form runner Lilliburlero.
Unable to string together much of a consistent run of form together over her 2013 spring preparation, Lilliburlero has returned to the track in arguably career best form this preparation, beating fellow Sapphire Stakes acceptor Recoinage to the line in the Group 3 Triscay Stakes (1200m) first-up before finishing a competitive second behind in-form mare A Time For Julia in the Group 3 Roy Higgins Tribute Quality (1200m) on March 15th.
Unlucky when blocked for a run and fifth when fanning across the line in the Group 3 Sebring Stakes (1200m) last time out, trainer David Payne is confident of a return to the winner’s circle for the talented Redoute’s Choice mare this weekend, despite drawing the somewhat awkward barrier 11.
Following a similar path towards the Sapphire Stakes, Recoinage finished only a place in the red of Lilliburlero in both the Triscay Stakes and Roy Higgins Tribute before sprinting well to finish fourth in the Group 3 Birthday Card Stakes (1200m) last time out.
Trainer Joseph Pride’s sole entrant in the Sapphire Stakes, Recoinage will also have to overcome a wide draw in barrier 12, but will be joined in the saddle by regular partner Jason Collett.
Unlucky when blocked for a run twice and squeezed out to finish second by a nose in the Birthday Card Stakes first-up, Plucky Belle will be seeking redemption in the 2014 Sapphire Stakes and is offered a prime chance to do so from the central barrier 6.
Securing an impressive four wins and five places from 18 race starts to date, the Mossman mare won the Group 3 Lavazza Short Black (1400m) with ease ahead of a talented field on Melbourne Cup day last season, ending her short preparation a disappointing 12th in the Group 1 Railway Stakes (1600m).
Trainer Peter Moody is confident of a convincing victory for Plucky Belle this weekend, who will be partnered by in-form, up-and-coming jockey Chad Schofield in the 2014 Sapphire Stakes.
Confirmed to make her debut tilt in a Group level race this weekend, exciting four-year-old Belle De Coeur has more than earned her position in the 2014 Sapphire Stakes after securing three wins and a place from only five competitive starts.
While unlucky to be blocked for a run and fifth in the Theraces.com.au Fillies Maiden (1150m) first-up this year, trainer Luke Price is confident leading Hong Kong-based jockey Zac Purton will get the best from his runner this weekend, particularly from the ideal barrier 2.
Amazing the only Sapphire Stakes contender to carry winning form into this weekend’s Group 2, Avoid Lightning has quickly built to the task this season, following up a hampered run for fifth in the Roy Higgins Tribute with a last gasp win in the Birthday Card Stakes last time out.
Confirmed to be partnered by jockey Blake Shinn for the first time, Avoid Lightning will have work to do immediately from barrier 7.
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2014 Sapphire Stakes Final Field and Barrier Draw
|No||Last 10||Horse||Trainer||Jockey||Barrier||Weight||Hcp Rating|
|1||4453x821x6||DYSTOPIA||Chris Waller||Hugh Bowman||4||55kg||105|
|2||236x540x51||AVOID LIGHTNING||Les Bridge||Blake Shinn||7||55kg||101|
|3||5260x2825x||FULL OF SPIRIT||Peter G Moody||Craig Newitt||8||55kg||100|
|4||x41268x125||LILLIBURLERO||David Payne||Nash Rawiller||11||55kg||100|
|5||4140x210x2||PLUCKY BELLE||Peter G Moody||Chad Schofield||6||55kg||99|
|6||51x7168x73||AEROBATICS||Peter Snowden||Kerrin McEvoy||9||55kg||98|
|7||x1110x227x||PERON||John P Thompson||Jim Cassidy||13||54kg||98|
|8||4×82241234||RECOINAGE||Joseph Pride||Jason Collett||12||54kg||88|
|9||1x83248x14||SIMPLY BRILLIANT||Bjorn Baker||Glyn Schofield||1||54kg||73|
|10||294x378x0x||VILLA SPLENDIDO||Garry White||–||3||54kg||72|
|11||2111×5||BELLE DE COEUR||Luke Price||Zac Purton||2||54kg||71|
|12||14x44x1642||COSMIC ENDEAVOUR||Gai Waterhouse||–||10||53kg||86|