Two key form lines will converge in the Group One Vinery Stud Stakes at Rosehill as top fillies Funstar and Probabeel enter uncharted waters.
The three-year-olds have established a keen rivalry, finishing one-two each time they have clashed with the ledger squarely in favour of Funstar at 3-1.
Markets predict another victory by Funstar if racing goes ahead on Saturday with the Chris Waller-trained filly an odds-on favourite ahead of Probabeel who at $4 is the only rival given a genuine chance to topple her.
Neither Funstar nor Probabeel has raced beyond 1600 metres and they step up to 2000 metres on Saturday after finishing first and second respectively in the Phar Lap Stakes (1500m) two weeks ago.
They will square off against some fresh faces with seven of their Vinery rivals coming through the Kembla Grange Classic (1600m), including race winner Asiago and Game Of Thorns who finished ninth but was beaten less than two lengths.
Game Of Thorns was one of the hard luck stories of the Kembla race after she was strung up behind runners in the straight.
Trainer Kris Lees is looking at the positives and if the form out of the Classic does stands up in the Vinery Stud Stakes, he has no doubt Game Of Thorns will be right in the mix on Saturday.
“She was a bit luckless but she’s come out of it well,” Lees said.
“If there is any benefit of having a ‘held up’ run, it is that they normally bounce out of it well.
“Outside of the top two, I think she’s going to be very competitive.
“She is on the way up so that’s positive.”
Godolphin has earmarked Asiago as a “classic style of filly” and like many of her rivals, she holds a nomination for the Australian Oaks (2400m) at Randwick next month.
Her Kembla victory was her second success at black-type level after she took out the Spring Stakes at Newcastle in November.
Trainer James Cummings says Asiago has a strong foundation for her first attempt at a middle-distance and regards her acceleration as her biggest asset.
“She has a turn of foot at 1600 metres that we believe can serve her well at 2000 metres,” Cummings said.
“She also has the strength that comes after a couple of preparations.
“Her best wins have come in the most important races, which suggests she rises to the occasion.”
Asiago will need to do exactly that to compete with Funstar and Probabeel who are both winners at Group One level, Funstar in the Flight Stakes last spring and Probabeel in the Surround Stakes two starts ago.
Article from JustHorseRacing.com.au