Espiona and Fangirl set for monster rematch in Surround Stakes

Fangirl wins Light Fingers
Fangirl edges out stablemate Espiona in the Light Fingers Stakes. (Lisa Grimm)

This Saturday’s Group 1 Surround Stakes (1400m) at Royal Randwick is shaping to be one of the highlights of the autumn as Espiona and Fangirl line up in a highly anticipated rematch.

A total of 41 three-year-old fillies have been nominated for the $500,000 feature, which boasts an impressive list of winners such as Gold Edition, More Joyous, First Seal and Probabeel.

Run a fortnight after the Light Fingers Stakes (1200m), racing fans are set for yet another thrilling contest between a number of superstar fillies.

Headlining the field is Chris Waller’s pair Espiona ($2) and Fangirl ($3.50), after they finished second and first respectively in the Light Fingers at their most recent starts.

Waller also has Hinged ($17), Finepoint ($67), She’s All Class ($34) and the promising Roots ($13) nominated for the race, leaving the leading trainer with the highest amount of nominations for the Group 1 event.

James Cummings goes into the race with a potential three-pronged attack comprising Arcaded ($67), Heresy ($51) and Larkspur Run ($34), while his brother Edward Cummings is planning on starting two fillies in the race – Have Mercy ($301) and I’m Divine ($151).

Presenting as the main danger to Espiona and Fangirl is the Light Fingers third-placegetter, Jamaea ($9), who should relish getting out to 1400m.

Three fillies sit on $17 with , including Group 1 Flight Stakes winner Never Been Kissed from the Gai Waterhouse & Adrian Bott yard.

Joining Never Been Kissed from that stable are Shihonka ($34) and Tilianam ($151).

Queensland filly Startantes ($17) has earnt plenty of market respect after an eye-catching effort in the Light Fingers last time out, while fourth-placegetter Zouzarella ($17) shares the same line of betting.

Thousand Guineas winner Yearning ($34) is the sole runner from the Michael, Wayne & John Hawkes stable in what will be her first outing since the spring.

Two undefeated fillies will look to keep their records intact; the Anthony & Sam Freedman-trained Snapped ($34) has won her two races in Victoria, while Bjorn Baker’s Shades Of Rose ($151) was an ultra-impressive 7.65-length winner at Bathurst on February 7, smashing the 1100m track record at just her second career start.

The Surround Stakes is one of two Group 1 races to be contested at Randwick on Saturday, with the other being the Chipping Norton Stakes (1600m), where Think It Over, Verry Elleegant and Top Ranked headline the nominations.

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