Last start Expressway Stakes winning sprinter Our Boy Malachi is one of the top-rated nominations taken for the Canterbury Stakes 2016 at Royal Randwick Racecourse in Sydney this Saturday.
Only eight hopefuls make up the early entries for this year’s $500,000 Group 1 Canterbury Stakes (1300m), nominations for the Randwick Guineas Day support act extended until Tuesday morning.
Of the current nominees seven-year-old Our Boy Malachi boasts the fitness edge after returning from injury to win the Group 2 Expressway Stakes (1200m) at Rosehill on January 30 by three lengths as the odds-on favourite.
That was the Top Echelon gelding’s 18th win from 22 starts and this weekend he shoots for another victory to retain his unbeaten record at Randwick.
Hawkes Racing train Our Boy Malachi and won the race in 2007 and 2008 with Malcom and Mentality respectively.
Co-trainer John Hawkes also won in 2006 with Paratroopers and 2004 with Yell, giving the stable an ace record in the weight-for-age showdown.
The last Canterbury Stakes winner to back directly up from an Expressway Stakes run however was At Sea (2nd) back in 1989 who also completed the double in 1988.
Also a winner first-up last start and nominated for the Canterbury Stakes on Saturday is the John Thompson-trained mare First Seal.
The four-year-old daughter of Fastnet Rock won the Group 2 Millie Fox Stakes (2000m) over Telepathic on February 20 at Rosehill and is looking to continue the good record of mares in the race.
In the past five years four mares have beaten home the boys in the Canterbury Stakes including Appearance (2014) and Cosmic Endeavour (2015) in the past two years.
Cosmic Endeavour was the seventh Canterbury Stakes winner for Gai Waterhouse who has one nominee for an eighth victory this Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival.
Waterhouse has entered Ecuador, the six-year-old son of High Chaparral last seen running ninth to subsequent Futurity Stakes winner Turn Me Loose in the Group 1 Emirates Stakes (1600m) last November.
His form earlier in the spring was better however including his brave second to Cox Plate winning mare Winx in the Group 1 Epsom Handicap (1600m) at Randwick.
That was Ecuador’s third second from four Randwick runs, the track also host to his winning barrier trial over 1250m on February 19 leading into Saturday.
The other two most notable returning runners in the Canterbury Stakes this season are the Chris Waller-trained Kermadec and Criterion for David Hayes & Tom Dabernig.
Four-year-old Teofilo stallion Kermadec shoots for his first win since the Group 1 George Main Stakes (1600m) last September at Randwick where he also won last autumn’s Group 1 Doncaster Mile (1600m).
Four-time Group 1 champion Criterion is the highest rated of the Canterbury Stakes nominees for Saturday, the five-year-old son of Sebring first-up off a Hong Kong Cup ninth in December.
Prior to that the $7.19 million earning stallion caught the eye in Melbourne winning the Caulfield Stakes, finishing second in the Cox Plate and third in the ‘race that stops a nation’ – the Melbourne Cup.
See below for the full Canterbury Stakes 2016 nominations before the final field and barriers are out on Wednesday.
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2016 Canterbury Stakes Nominations
Randwick Racecourse – Saturday, March 5, 2016
|#||Form (Last 10)||Horse||Sex||Age||Trainer||Hcp. Rating|
|2||135x61239x||CRITERION (NZ)||H||5||David Hayes & Tom Dabernig||115|
|3||614x24269x||ECUADOR (NZ)||G||6||Gai Waterhouse||103|
|4||12x21226x1||FIRST SEAL||M||4||John P Thompson||109|
|5||111x5x111x||HAPPY CLAPPER||G||5||Patrick Webster||100|
|7||431x52140x||KERMADEC (NZ)||H||4||Chris Waller||113|
|8||x111x130x1||OUR BOY MALACHI||G||7||Michael, Wayne & John Hawkes||109|