Only eleven fillies and mares have been confirmed in the final field for this weekend’s Group 3 Birthday Card Stakes (1200m) at Rosehill Gardens, including Lilliburlero.
Opening her so-far short racing career with two impressive wins and an unlucky third in late 2012, Lilliburlero was largely disappointing over eight race starts in 2013, finishing in the places just once and unable to figure in either of her maiden tilts at Group level.
Having taken well to the spelling paddock well in October, the Redoute’s Choice mare has returned to the track a new horse in her current preparation, strolling home to beat fellow Birthday Card Stakes acceptor Recoinage by nearly two lengths in the Group 3 Triscay Stakes (1200m) first-up before producing a strong turn of foot to finish second to A Time For Julia in the Group 3 Roy Higgins Tribute (1200m) most recently.
Having earmarked the Group 1 Queen Of The Turf Stakes (1200m) as the major target for Lilliburlero this season, trainer David Payne is confident of continuing a strong run in Group 3 races this weekend.
Amassing two race wins and nine places from 18 starts to date, Recoinage has arguably hit career-best condition over her current preparation, following up a strong win in the Gifts.com.au Maiden (1300m) with her second to Lilliburlero in the Triscay Stakes before overcoming a poor position rounding the final bend to finish third in the Roy Higgins Tribute most recently.
While yet to finalise a path for the Flying Spur mare this campaign, trainer Joseph Pride has revealed he will let this weekend’s results do the talking, with a Queen Of The Turf berth a realistic possibility if successful.
Trainer Peter Moody will be offered twice the chance of success in the 2014 Birthday Card Stakes, having accepted positions for talented stable mates Plucky Belle and Meliora.
While short in nature, Plucky Belle produced a largely strong 2013 spring preparation, unluckily finishing second to Diamond Earth in the Group 3 The Nivision (1200m) before strolling home in the Group 3 Lavazza Short Black (1400m) on Melbourne Cup day most notably.
Yet to contest an event in 2014, Moody is confident of a first-up victory for Plucky Belle this weekend, having drawn the ideal barrier 4 and confirmed in-form jockey Chad Schofield for the ride.
Disappointing when last in the Roy Higgins Tribute first-up, Moody is confident Meliora (barrier 8) will be back to peak condition when lining up for the Birthday Card Stakes, having produced a good piece of work at Randwick earlier this week.
A proven performer in autumn events, Meliora claimed the 2013 Aquanas Handicap (1200m) before strolling home to win the Group 2 Angus Armanasco Stakes (1400m) by nearly four lengths.
Amazingly figuring as the only 2014 Birthday Card Stakes acceptor to carry winning form into this weekend’s Group 3, Shahad is without doubt the unknown quantity in the final field of eleven.
Comfortably claiming the More Than Ready Maiden (1250m) first-up, Shahad produced some consistent results over a short spring carnival, finishing fourth in the Group 2 Furious Stakes (1200m) first-up and producing a strong turn of foot to again finish an unlucky fourth behind talented filly Guelph in the Group 2 Tea Rose Stakes (1400m) most notably.
Trainer Gai Waterhouse, who will also saddle leading chance Miss Stellabelle (barrier 9), is confident the Fastnet Rock filly can secure a maiden win at Group level from barrier 7.
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2014 Birthday Card Stakes Final Field and Barrier Draw
|No||Last 10||Horse||Trainer||Jockey||Barrier||Weight||Hcp Rating|
|1||5x41268x12||LILLIBURLERO||David Payne||Nash Rawiller||1||58kg||100|
|3||2236x540x5||AVOID LIGHTNING||Les Bridge||Tim Clark||5||56.5kg||97|
|4||324356×226||MISS STELLABELLE||Gai Waterhouse||Damien Oliver||9||56.5kg||97|
|5||64140x210x||PLUCKY BELLE||Peter G Moody||Chad Schofield||4||56.5kg||97|
|6||417x2007x0||MELIORA||Peter G Moody||–||8||54kg||88|
|7||54×8224123||RECOINAGE||Joseph Pride||Jason Collett||2||54kg||88|
|8||x8214x7x94||SINGLE STYLE (NZ)||Gary Portelli||Brenton Avdulla||6||54kg||87|
|9||4713144×18||ANGEL BEE (NZ)||Michael, Wayne & John Hawkes||James McDonald||11||54kg||82|
|10||9250x448x1||SHAHAD||Gai Waterhouse||Tommy Berry||7||54kg||78|
|11||294x378x0x||VILLA SPLENDIDO||Garry White||Jim Cassidy||10||54kg||72|