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NEWCASTLE Jockey Club boss Duane Dowell is ecstatic with nominations for the The Hunter on Saturday declaring the $1m feature a genuine group-level race.
The John O’Shea-trained Lost and Running has top weight of 59 kilograms and was among 10 horses with a rating over 100.
“In previous year we haven’t seen and Everest runner in it,” Dowell said. “We have 10 horses that are rated 100 or over and that is a genuine group-level race and certainly fits the level of prizemoney on offer.”
The six-year-old won the Group 3 Newcastle Newmarket in March but hasn’t raced since a 1.9 length fifth to Think It Over in the Group 1 George Ryder Stakes.
Special Reward, which was runner-up least year, hasn’t produced much in its two runs back from a spell. Acquitted, Countofmontecristo. Never Talk and Wandabaa are Lee’s other hopes.
Nominations for the Beauford, which is a new race, have been extended and Dowell is confident of having a full field of 15.
“Once you introduce a new race it takes two or three years to be imbedded,” Dowell said. “The Beauford has 13 nominated at the moment and we will probably get a couple of more. That will be a race trainers aim for in future years. It only came to fruition two or three months ago. It hasn’t always been on the radar of these trainers. In ensuing years, it will become a real target race.
“The Springs Stakes has attracted good quality and horses in good recent form. There are five last-start winners. When yo are talking three-year-olds in the spring, they ae all progressive. Their rate of improvement at this part of their career can be pretty rapid. I have no doubt the winner will be a star in the future.
“The Max Lee Classic has a lot of first-start two years and you don’t know where they are going to end up in their career.
“We have 41 nominated for the TAB Highway handicap and I’m really pleased that the country trainers are supporting the day as well. That could even be split into two races yet, depending on acceptances”.