The Hill Stakes will be a defining race for a host of Chris Waller’s spring carnival contenders.
As he did in the Chelmsford Stakes, Sydney’s premier trainer will provide most of the field for Saturday’s Group Two race at Randwick.
Waller sent out 11 runners in the Chelmsford (1600m) but weight of numbers could not match the explosive return of Godolphin’s Complacent who will be among the opposition again.
“The Hill Stakes will be the last time this spring we will have that many runners in one race,” Waller said.
“Now these horses are getting up to 2000 metres, the Hill Stakes will tell us where they are going.
“Some are heading to the Cox Plate, some to the Metropolitan and others to the Turnbull Stakes.”
The two horses that finished behind Complacent – Kermadec and Royal Descent – will stick to 1600 metres in Saturday’s Group One George Main Stakes.
Waller may have to get a new jockey for Kermadec with Glen Boss to appeal a careless riding suspension from Flemington on Saturday.
The weather may conspire against some of the stable’s Hill Stakes runners with rain forecast in Sydney late in the week.
Victoria Derby winner Preferment finished eight lengths from Complacent when 12th in the Chelmsford on a soft track, his first start since he struggled in the wet in the Australian Derby.
“I’m looking forward to getting him on a good track,” Waller said.
Sydney Cup winner Grand Marshal was 13th of the 16 runners at his first start since his autumn Group One win and is adept on wet or dry.
“He is terrific and the 2000 metres will suit him at this stage of his preparation,” Waller said.
“I think he is starting to find form.
“Hawkspur needs to find form and the 2000 metres gives him that chance and I expect Who Shot Thebarman to appreciate the distance.”
Who Shot Thebarman, third in the 2014 Melbourne Cup, is on the fourth line of betting for the race this year at $18 and is the most favoured of Waller’s entries.