The 2011 Let’s Elope Stakes could well be one of the biggest yet with a huge contingent to use the run as a key springboard into the rest of the Melbourne spring racing carnival.
While the local contingent is always red hot they will face some stern opposition from the international’s this year, specifically the Kiwi’s.
From the land of the long white cloud comes a huge force of mares all of which with proven Group level performances.
Arguably one of the most dangerous will be the Shaune Ritchie trained Keep The Peace.
Her ultimate aim is the Myer Classic however the Let’s Elope Stakes will provide a crucial stepping stone.
This season she already has claimed two Group 1 events back at home in the form of the Mudgway Partsworld Stakes and Otaki Classic.
They’ve elected to bypass a defence of her Mudgway title to come to Australia so there’s no doubt they’ll have her in top shape so she has every chance.
Her trainer says she’ll have a couple of barrier trials at home to get her into winning form and then it’ll be straight into the 2011 Let’s Elope Stakes.
‘Winning the Mudgway again is not going to help her as a broodmare whereas winning a Group race in Australia will,” Ritchie said.
“Keep The Peace is very good fresh and also in the wet so it might give her a bit of an edge first-up in the Let’s Elope Stakes.
“From there she can follow the fillies and mares series through to the Myer Classic.’
While she’ll certainly have to deal with a few stubborn Australian horses, she’ll also need to remain wary of her compatriots.
King’s Rose is in Melbourne already under the guidance of new trainer Peter Moody.
She’s only a matter of weeks off racing form and if she can get back to her best she’s a huge danger as shown by her Group 1 NZ 1000 Guineas win.
She’s assured of trying her hand at the Let’s Elope Stakes on a campaign which will also include the Group 1 Toorak Handicap and the Group 1 Myer Classic.
It’s the same story for Barinka as she embarks on her final spring carnival before becoming a full time stud horse.
She’s already been booked for champion sire Zabeel, in fact that will happen right in the middle of her prep.
It’s yet to be determined whether or not she’ll have an extra race or two after being served however her races before hand are locked in.
She’ll run first up back at home in the Group 3 Foxbridge Plate before heading into the Let’s Elope Stakes.
From there she’ll go to the Group 2 Stocks Stakes at Moonee Valley before going home for her appointment with Zabeel.
What happens form there is anyone’s guess.
The only thing we know for sure is that these three kiwi superstar’s have all won Group 1’s at home this season and they’ll be arriving for the Let’s Elope Stakes in top form.
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