Nature Strip winning the Schweppes Rubiton Stakes at Caulfield Racecourse on February 09, 2019 at Caulfield. Image: Racing Photos

Elite equine athletes set to sparkle on Ladbrokes Blue Diamond Stakes Day

Racing Victoria’s Executive General Manager – Racing, Greg Carpenter, has hailed the quality of fields set to adorn Ladbrokes Blue Diamond Stakes Day at Caulfield this Saturday (23 February).

Fourteen of the country’s most precocious juveniles will step out at 4.10pm, all aiming to add their names to an impressive rollcall of Blue Diamond Stakes (1200m) winners which includes Written By (2018), Catchy (2017), Sepoy (2011), Reward for Effort (2009), Alinghi (2004), Bel Esprit (2002) and Redoute’s Choice (1999). 

Pre-race favourite Loving Gaby, trained by the Ciaron Maher and David Eustace stable, has drawn barrier 12 for the $1.5 million contest, with two other well-fancied runners, Brooklyn Hustle (Jason Warren) and Athiri (James Cummings), either side of her in barriers 11 and 13 respectively.

The $500,000 Yulong Futurity Stakes (1400m) at 3.30pm is the first Group 1 race on Blue Diamond Stakes Day, and this year’s renewal has attracted a quality field including Godolphin’s in-form mare Alizee (ridden by Hugh Bowman), a dominant winner of both her starts this campaign.

All 12 runners are Group winners, with nine having won at Group 1 level including Alizee’s stablemates Hartnell (ridden by Dwayne Dunn) and Best Of Days (Craig Williams). All 12 are also nominated for The All-Star Mile, and with the winner likely to receive a wildcard for the new $5 million showpiece, there is an extra incentive to claim the spoils this year.   

An elite field of 18 sprinters, including Chris Waller’s rising star Nature Strip, will take off at 4.50pm in the time-honoured Ladbrokes Oakleigh Plate (1100m), which was first run in 1884 and became a Group 1 in 1980.

Sydney’s premier trainer is yet to win the Oakleigh Plate but would appear to have a leading chance of breaking his drought with Nature Strip, who boasts a career record of nine wins and two seconds from 13 starts, and is stepping up to the elite level for only the second time.

However the four-year-old, who will be ridden by Damian Lane, will face some stiff competition in the form of multiple Group 1-winning mares Shoals (Anthony Freedman) and Viddora (Lloyd Kennewell) and the in-form Bons Away (Maher and Eustace), who is aiming to deliver a second win at the elite level for his jockey, Linda Meech. 

The trio of feature races are complemented by three Group 2s, two Group 3s and a Listed contest on an outstanding day of racing at Caulfield, where the Veuve Clicquot Lawn and the Bondi Sands Beach Club will enhance the off-track entertainment. 

“The Melbourne Racing Club has done a magnificent job in drawing superb fields, with several seriously exciting horses set to shine on one of the feature days of the Festival of Racing,” said Carpenter.

“After two weekends of great racing, the quality action continues at Caulfield on Saturday and I’m personally very excited to see an intriguing blend of youth and experience compete across the nine races on Ladbrokes Blue Diamond Stakes Day.”

For a full historical overview of the Ladbrokes Blue Diamond Stakes, please click here    

For a full historical overview of the Ladbrokes Oakleigh Plate, please click here

For a full historical overview of the Yulong Futurity Stakes, please click here

Find out more about Ladbrokes Blue Diamond Stakes day here.