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Anticipation is building some five months out from the 2021 $1.5 million Neds Blue Diamond Stakes, after 1614 nominations were lodged on Friday.

Local giants Ciaron Maher and David Eustace, who lined up an astonishing six runners in this year’s Blue Diamond, will aim to once again gang-tackle the Group 1 event after submitting 108 nominations for next year’s edition, by far the most of any trainer. The Lindsay Park team, now sans six-time Blue Diamond winning patriarch David Hayes, are again well represented (80), as are Michael, Wayne and John Hawkes (77).

Team Hawkes have more than just sheer numbers in their favour in their pursuit of another Blue Diamond Stakes title, the family training operation also boast Zoustar colt Dio among their entries. Out of the mare Solar Charged, Dio is a full brother to recently retired super mare Sunlight.

Other nominations sure to attract interest are the progeny of star mares Black Caviar (a filly by I Am Invincible), Miss Finland (a colt by Shalaa, trained Tom Dabernig & Ben Hayes) and the late Miracles Of Life’s final daughter, a filly by American Pharaoh to be trained by Snowden Racing.

The ever-brilliant Snitzel dominates the sires list with 93 of his progeny nominated for the $1.5 million feature. Giving chase is hot young sire I Am Invincible (79), while the popularity of Golden Slipper winner Capitalist is plain to see, 64 of his sons and daughters among nominations.

Plenty will be cheering for rookie trainer Annabel Neasham in next year’s Diamond. The horsewoman, so critical to the juvenile success of the Ciaron Maher & David Eustace stable last season with horses like Magic Millions winner Away Game, will get the chance to train that iron filly’s half sister (Not A Single Doubt x Elusive Wonder), one of several of well-bred horses that Neasham will prepare in her own right for Aquis.

And in a strange turn of events, champion trainer Chris Waller will prepare Snitzel colt Sirocco Gale, the first offspring of 2015 ATC Oaks winner Gust Of Wind. That race was the final time that Waller’s champion mare Winx would taste defeat on a racetrack.

“We are delighted to have once again received such a large number of nominations from right across Australia and New Zealand for Victoria’s premier juvenile race, the Neds Blue Diamond Stakes,” said MRC Chief Executive Officer Josh Blanksby.

“It goes without saying that it is a tough time for the racing and breeding industries, as it is for society as a whole, yet if our industry has proved anything over the past 5 months, it’s that it is disciplined, no doubt, and incredibly resilient.

We thank all our trainers, owners and breeders for their support, as they continue their great work and we sincerely hope to be seeing them and our fans trackside at Caulfield next February.”

First Nominations for the 2021 Blue Diamond Stakes close at 12pm NOON, Tuesday 17 November ($330).

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