Big Names to Contest Race 3 of NZB WFA ChampionshipThursday, Sep 20, 2012
The A$400,000 Group 1 Underwood Stakes (1800m), the third leg of New Zealand Bloodstock’s Caulfield Spring Weight-for-Age Championship, is shaping up as an exciting contest with some of Australasia’s biggest names lining up in the Melbourne feature.
The Underwood Stakes offers a ballot exemption from the Caulfield Cup, attracting seven starters on Saturday that are also nominated for the world’s richest 2400 metre handicap. Seven horses have completed the Underwood Stakes/Caulfield Cup double with Elvstroem (Danehill) the last horse to achieve the feat in 2004.
The Underwood has been won in the last two years by New Zealand horses, with Lion Tamer heading off Southern Speed last year, and So You Think winning in 2010. The race has also been taken out by kiwis El Segundo, Octagonal, and Bonecrusher.
The NZB WFA Championship is currently being lead by Second Effort (Mossman) with 16 points on the board after winning the Group 2 PB Lawrence Stakes and placing third in the Group 2 New Zealand Bloodstock Memsie Stakes. But Second Effort is absent from Saturday’s Underwood Stakes, leaving the door open for Sincero (Umatilla) to take the lead in the Championship.
A brilliant performance in the New Zealand Bloodstock Memsie Stakes gave Sincero 10 points and second place in the Championship. A headline contender for the Cox Plate, the Stephen Farley trained five-year-old will have his work cut out for him on Saturday with a world class field assembled. He has drawn barrier 12 with kiwi jockey Michael Walker to ride.
The Underwood stakes will see the next round of the staunch rivalry between the triple Group 1 winner Manighar (Linamix) and Caulfield Cup winner Southern Speed (Southern Image).
The pair has clashed on a number of occasions, most famously in last season’s Australian Cup where the Peter Moody trained Manighar beat Southern Speed by a nose in a hard fought battle. Southern Speed turned the tables at the pair’s last start in the Group 2 Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m) for her trainers Leon Macdonald & Andrew Gluyas.
Southern Speed has drawn barrier 11 on Saturday with Craig Williams to ride, while Manighar and Luke Nolen have drawn right alongside in 10.
Peter Moody will also saddle the Cups bound seven-year-old Voila Ici (Daylami) who has won 13 of his 29 starts including two at Group 1 level. He ran a good sixth in the NZB Memsie Stakes fresh-up and has drawn barrier nine with Vlad Duric in the saddle.
The kiwi trained Ocean Park (Thorn Park) brings outside form into the race having won the Group 1 Makfi Challenge Stakes at his last start in New Zealand. The Karaka graduate campaigned in Australia last season where he ran the unluckiest of seconds in the Group 1 Rosehill Guineas. The Gary Hennessy trained four-year-old has secured the services of jockey Glen Boss and will jump from barrier five.
John, Michael & Wayne Hawkes will have two runners in the race, the Melbourne Cup placed kiwi Maluckyday (Zabeel) and the Sydney Cup winner Niwot (Galileo).
Both horses come into the race second-up, with Karaka graduate Maluckyday making a promising return in the NZB Memsie Stakes after a year away from the track to earn one Championship point. Niwot also resumed in the NZB Memsie stakes and both horses will have benefited from the run and will enjoy the step-up in distance.
Champion sire Zabeel will be represented by two runners, the second being the Leon Corstens trained Group 1 South Australian Derby winner Zabeelionaire who made his track return behind Southern Speed in the Makybe Diva Stakes. With regular rider Damien Oliver unable to make the four-year-old’s weight of 52kgs in the Caulfield Cup, he will be ridden by Craig Newitt from barrier four.
Two interesting runners who are prominent in Cups betting are December Draw (Medecis) and Mawingo (Tertullian) who both resumed in the Makybe Diva Stakes.
The Mark Kavanagh trained December Draw won the Group 1 Turnbull Stakes last year and he has registered track success from a mile up and is another that will enjoy the step up in trip.
Mawingo is also a Group 1 winner over 2000 metres for trainer Anthony Freedman and was Group 2 placed over 1800 metres in Brisbane in the Hollindale Stakes in May. They have drawn barriers 13 and eight respectively.
Master Cups trainer Bart Cummings is looking for his 13th Melbourne Cup winner this year and will have the Cups bound Illo (Tertullian) and Sanagas (Lomitas) in the race. Both horses come into the Underwood Stakes after resuming earlier this month and produced good sectionals fresh-up breaking 35 seconds for the last 600 metres in their races.
The Underwood Stakes will be the first Australian start for the John Sadler trained Winchester (Theatrical). Bred and raced in America, the seven-year-old is a top performer having won four Group 1 races there. He is entered in all the major spring races including the Melbourne Cup and his trainer has expressed that he will need Saturday’s run after 10 months away from the track.
Cups bound Drunken Sailor (Tendulkar) has not raced since the Group 1 Sydney Cup in April and boasts a good fresh up record of seven starts for two wins and three placings. The Michael Moroney trained eight-year-old has won over 1800 metres and ran third over the distance at his first start last preparation at Caulfield.
The winner of the Group 1 Underwood Stakes will receive 10 points in New Zealand Bloodstock’s Caulfield Spring Weight-for-Age Championship with second earning 8 points, third earning 6 points, fourth earning 4 points, fifth earning 3 points and sixth to eighth each earning 1 point.
The four races in the Caulfield Spring Weight-for-Age Championship offer A$1.24 million in stakes and the ultimate winner of the Championship will receive trophies to the value of $25,000.
To view the field for the Group 1 Underwood Stakes, click here.
To view the points table and race schedule for New Zealand Bloodstock’s Caulfield Spring Weight-for-Age Championship, click here.