A small field is set to contest the Listed Chester Manifold Stakes at Flemington with seven of the eight acceptors striving for their first victory at stakes level.
Among those is the promising Robert Hickmott-trained Bumper Blast who makes his stakes racing debut having risen through the grades with three wins from his five starts.
Bumper Blast’s connections pinpointed Saturday’s Chester Manifold (1400m) as a winnable option for his introduction to stakes racing and the lightly raced four-year-old takes in an unbeaten record over the course and distance from two attempts.
After winning a maiden at Sale in late October, Bumper Blast took out the Greys race at Flemington during the Melbourne Cup carnival.
Two starts later he won again at Flemington last month to set up a crack at the Chester Manifold.
“Every time we raise the bar with him he steps up,” Hickmott said.
“He’s got to again going into a Listed race. It didn’t seem that long ago he was winning a maiden at Sale and he’s only had five starts.
“We thought it’s not traditionally the strongest race on the calendar at this time of year.
“He is going very well. He has freshened up nicely since his last start.”
Bumper Blast will be ridden by Regan Bayliss who makes his return to Victorian racing at Geelong on Thursday having completed a riding stint in Hong Kong since early last year.
The James Cummings-trained Duca Valentinois, a Group Three winner and multiple Listed winner, has top weight with 60kg for his first start back from a spell while trainer Aaron Purcell has accepted for Guizot who had also been nominated for the 1600m handicap on the program.
Sydney trainer Jason Coyle has also accepted for the mare Insensata in a 1400m race at Randwick on Saturday.
The Chester Manifold is the feature on the Flemington program, with gate takings from Saturday’s meeting to go to the VIC Bushfire Disaster Appeal.