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Turnbull Stakes to shape the spring majors

rostropovich
Trainer David Hayes expects to get a better guide on Rostropovich after the Turnbull Stakes.

The Turnbull Stakes at Flemington is the race that can shape the spring fortunes of potential contenders.

In the past 20 years the race has provided a glimpse to winners of Melbourne’s spring majors.

Sky Heights won the Turnbull in 1999 before winning the Caulfield Cup then three years later Northerly followed his win with success in the Caulfield Cup and Cox Plate.

Makybe Diva (2005) followed with Cox Plate and Melbourne Cup victories and Green Moon (2012) later won the Melbourne Cup while champion Winx, winner of the past two Turnbull Stakes, went on to claim the Cox Plate.

The Turnbull in 1991 announced Let’s Elope as a future Horse Of The Year under the guidance of Bart Cummings with the mare winning the Caulfield Cup, Mackinnon Stakes and Melbourne Cup at her next three starts.

Saturday’s Group One race over 2000m has attracted 19 nominations, of which nine are Group One winners.

Noting the previous history of the Turnbull Stakes, Lindsay Park senior trainer David Hayes said Saturday’s race would be a good indicator to the spring prospects of Rostropovich.

A former member of Aidan O’Brien’s stable, Rostropovich pleased Hayes with his seventh behind Gatting in the Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m) at Flemington on September 14.

“I thought he was very good first-up,” Hayes said.

“He’s made nice progression and I’d say he’ll be better off again in the Caulfield Cup rather than in the Turnbull, but I’m expecting him to run a really nice race, especially if he draws a barrier.

“This is a bit of a moving day for the spring and I clearly remember Let’s Elope and what she went on and did in the spring.

“I hope it’s the same for this horse.”

Rostropovich had two runs in Australia last spring, running fifth in the Cox Plate and Melbourne Cup, and after a midfield finish in the Hong Kong Vase at Sha Tin in December spent six months in New Zealand to meet quarantine requirements before making his way to Melbourne.

The former Irish galloper opened at $13 for Saturday’s race.

Godolphin’s Avilius, considered a doubtful starter with the Caulfield Stakes on Saturday week favoured, opened the $2.80 favourite, but now shares that line with Mystic Journey who has firmed from $3.

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