A talented field of just 15 runners have been confirmed to line up for this weekend’s featured Group 1 Epsom Handicap (1600m) at Royal Randwick Racecourse, highlighted by several previous winners at the highest level of Australian racing.
The standout performer of the 2013 Spring Racing Carnival, trainer Chris Waller has confirmed last year’s Epsom champion Boban for a title defence this weekend.
Securing a total of nine wins and two minors form just 26 competitive starts to date, Boban took out a minor over 1300m first-up and the Group 3 Bill Ritchie Handicap (1400m) in the lead-up to his 2013 Epsom Handicap victory; progressing to impressive wins in the Group 3 Moonga Stakes (1400m) and Group 1 Emirates Stakes (1600m).
While unable to reach the same racing heights over the 2014 Autumn Carnival, the Bernardini gelding added the Group 1 Chipping Norton Stakes (1600m) to his list of achievements most notably on March 8th.
Finishing fourth in the Group 2 Missile Stakes (1200m) and fifth in both the Group 1 Memsie Stakes (1400m) and Group 1 Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m) so-far this time in, all signs seem to point towards another impressive performance in the Epsom Handicap.
Eyeing a return to Group 1 winning form after finishing second in three black type starts this time in, Waller has also confirmed Royal Descent in the final field for the 2014 Epsom Handicap.
A standout performer from her maiden racing preparation over the autumn of 2013 which peaked with an impressive victory in the Group 1 Australian Oaks (2400m), Royal Descent returned to the track last spring in similarly devastating form and was unlucky not to secure a race win over five starts; finishing second in both the Group 3 Toy Show Quality (1300m) and Group 1 George Main Stakes (1600m) most notably.
Producing four good runs over the 2014 Autumn Carnival which included a close second to stable mate Sacred Falls in the Group 1 Doncaster Mile, the Redoute’s Choice mare ran on for second in the Group 2 Warwick Stakes (1400m) first-up this time before repeating the dose in both the Group 2 Chelmsford Stakes (1600m) and George Main Stakes.
Spending nearly 18 months on the sidelines with a string of unfortunate training injuries before returning to the track for the 2014 Spring Racing Carnival, Group 1 winner Laser Hawk displayed a keen turn of foot to finish third in the George Main Stakes last time out and appears primed for success in the 2014 Epsom Handicap.
Beginning his racing career under the guidance of trainer Gai Waterhouse, the Artie Schiller gelding undoubtedly hit peak condition over the 2012 Autumn Carnival; finishing third in both the Group 1 Randwick Guineas (1600m) and Group 1 Australian Derby (2400m) and winning the Group 1 Rosehill Guineas (2000m).
Steadily building to the task over his two starts prior to the George Main, current trainer Joe Pride has been understandably thrilled with the way the lightly-raced six-year-old has returned to competition and is expecting a polished performance in the Epsom Handicap.
Unlucky not to have yet secured a Group 1 title, classy runner Star Rolling is arguably offered his best chance of breaking the drought over a mile in the 2014 Epsom Handicap.
Unlucky to have been balloted out of several of his major targets over the 2013 Spring Carnival, Star Rolling secured several notable results over the Autumn Carnival this year, highlighted by a strong run for third behind 2013 Melbourne Cup champion Fiorente in the Group 2 Peter Young Stakes (1800m) on February 22nd.
Securing a standout win in the Group 2 P.B. Lawrence Stakes (1400m) first-up this season, the Casino Prince gelding was unable to figure in contention in either of his two most recent starts, but is likely to return to competitive condition over the ideal distance of one mile.
The barrier draw for the 2014 Epsom Handicap is scheduled to take place at 10:15am on Wednesday morning.
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