13 nominations for Group 3 Aurie’s Star Handicap

Shooting For Gold wins at Eagle Farm
Shooting For Gold is on the second line of betting for the Aurie’s Star Handicap this Saturday. (Photo: Michael McInally)

Nominations for Saturday’s Group 3 Aurie’s Star Handicap (1200m) at Flemington have been extended until 10am AEST on Tuesday, August 2, after just 13 horses were entered on Monday afternoon.

Peter & Paul Snowden will be hoping their hot run of form in Victoria can continue when they saddle up King Of Sparta in the $200,000 feature at headquarters as he looks to make it back-to-back wins, building on last month’s Group 3 Bletchingly Stakes (1200m).

In the Bletchingly, King Of Sparta did enough to defy Queensland visitor Scallopini, and while there won’t be a rematch on Saturday, his main rival appears to be Scallopini’s stablemate, Shooting For Gold.

The five-year-old gelding has finished fourth in his last three starts throughout the Queensland Winter Carnival, having most recently finished just one length behind Juan Diva in the Group 3 Healy Stakes (1200m) at Eagle Farm when having to overcome a luckless run in transit.

The Steven O’Dea & Matthew Hoysted stable gave the son of Shooting To Win a jumpout over 800m at Flemington on July 29, where he led throughout and defeated Group 1 winners Alligator Blood and Mr Brightside under a tight hold.

“There’s a race like The Heath at Caulfield which could be his next option, but we’re just going at it one race at a time,” Hoysted told HorseBetting.

“We’re not wanting to get too far ahead of ourselves; it’s obviously a different kettle of fish going down there to adapt going on that Melbourne leg.

“Obviously Shooting For Gold will be up the straight in the Aurie’s Star, but it’s a different kettle of fish, so they’ve got to settle in and do everything right.”

Joining Shooting For Gold and King Of Sparta in the Aurie’s Star is a trio of Danny O’Brien gallopers, all of which are owned by Western Australian leviathan owner Bob Peters.

Regal Power, Showmanship and Stageman all look to begin their spring campaigns, with the former likely to be on a Caulfield Cup path, while the other two gallopers embark on a sprinting preparation.

Fellow Western Australian galloper Kissonallforcheeks was a Group 3 winner over 1400m at this track back in March when proving far too good in the Shaftesbury Avenue Handicap.

Also catching the eye amongst the 13 nominations is the Ben & JD Hayes-trained Pas Malotru.

The six-year-old gelding was a Group 3 winner in Italy in 2019 over 1200m and backed that up the following year with a Listed win in England and a Group 1 placing in France behind one of the best three-year-olds of his generation, Pinatubo.

Online bookmakers have installed King Of Sparta as the $3.50 favourite in the Aurie’s Star betting market, ahead of Shooting For Gold ($5) and Pas Malotru ($8).

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