South Australia’s Festival of Racing carnival – featuring the first ever $1m races in the State’s history – has attracted a stellar field of contenders, with a number of high-profile trainers, jockeys and horses confirmed today.
Five Sydney trainers – including the legendary Gai Waterhouse – have nominated horses for this Saturday’s $1 million UBET Classic (registered name Robert Sangster Stakes) while interstate and overseas chances pepper the rest of the three-week carnival which culminates with the $1 million Darley Goodwood on May 20th.
Highlights of the Festival of Racing carnival revealed by the SAJC today include:
UBET Classic ($1 million):
- English – Gai Waterhouse-trained mare, winner of Group 1 All-Aged Stakes at Royal Randwick
- Sheidel – Group 1 Oakleigh Plate winner, ridden by Brazilian João Moreira, arguably the best jockey in the world and coming to SA for the first time
- I Am a Star – Group 1 Myer Classic winner trained by Shane Nichols (Vic)
- Now Or Later – Irish import from the Robert Smerdon yard (Vic)
- Ravi – trained by Peter and Paul Snowden (Sydney) who won in 2015 with Miracles of Life
- Viddora – The best local hope from trainer Lloyd Kennewell
A number of high-profile names have already nominated for the SA Oaks, including the highly-fancied Egg Tart, winner of its last four starts. Egg Tart is trained by Chris Waller, the trainer of Winx, who also has nominated a runner in the $600,000 SA Derby.
João Moreira – known around the world ‘the Magic Man’ – will also ride Sebring Dream in the SA Oaks, while high-profile trainers Darren Weir, Gai Waterhouse and Grant Cullen have also nominated runners.
In the $1 million Darley Goodwood (on 20 May), Weir’s Black Heart Bart, a five-time Group 1 winner, will be looking to reverse 100 years of history by becoming the first back-to-back champion. There will be a strong line-up trying to prevent that, including Tony McEvoy’s Hey Doc (SA) and Illustrious Lad and Malaguerra, both of which are trained by Peter Gelagotis.
The State’s first $1 million races have been made possible by a $6 million funding commitment over two years provided by the State Government. 30 races across the carnival and the preceding three weeks at Morphettville receive a prizemoney boost. This includes 14 non-feature races, with all races over the period now having a $100,000 minimum purse.
Quotes from SAJC Chair Bodelle Francis:
“The announcement of such strong fields for the Festival of Racing is great news, not only for the SAJC but for South Australia racing as a whole because of the focus it will help bring on our industry.
“To have names of the calibre of Weir, Waterhouse, Waller and Moreira competing is a fantastic compliment to Morphettville and a great return on the investment being made by the State Government in racing in this State.”
Quotes from Thoroughbred Racing SA CEO Jim Watters:
“The number of starters in the autumn carnival has grown for the past three years and we’ve seen a significant increase in interest from trainers and owners around Australia and beyond.
“However, the response we have had to the increase in prizemoney for the 2017 Festival of Racing has taken this to another level. It’s given the carnival and South Australian racing a massive boost in terms of our position on the national stage and, importantly, this will have benefits for tourism, visitation and economic activity around the three weekends of racing.
“With the investment made by the State Government in our carnival, we are working with various agencies to ensure we maximise the benefits for South Australia.”