In its short history the Blue Sapphire Stakes has emerged as the ideal lead-up to a much sought-after Group One race at Flemington.
The $350,000 race for three-year-olds at Caulfield on Wednesday will be run for the seventh time with its entire honour roll of winners heading to the Coolmore Stud Stakes on November 3 – the opening day of Melbourne Cup week.
Flying Artie claimed the double in 2016 while either side of his success Keen Array (2015) went on to run second at Flemington and in 2017 Formality finished third behind Merchant Navy.
In 2013 Lion Of Belfort ran third to Zoustar at Flemington which led to the race being granted Listed status when Eloping won in 2014, gaining a further upgrade for 2016.
The race has proven successful for Lindsay Park through Keen Array and Formality and the stable has two of the six starters on Wednesday.
David Hayes, who trains in partnership with son Ben and nephew Tom Dabernig, expects the stable’s runners Tony Nicconi and Smart Elissim to perform well.
Tony Nicconi won his first two starts before jarring up when 12th behind Native Soldier in the McNeil Stakes at Caulfield on September 1.
“We’ve given him a couple of weeks on the water walker and he seems to have recovered well,” Hayes said.
“That run was too bad to be true so if you can forgive it you’ll find that he’s a pretty competitive horse.”
Like his stablemate, Smart Elissim won his first two starts before being dispatched to Sydney with a view to contest the Golden Rose at Rosehill.
After pleasing in his Sydney debut when finishing third in the Up And Coming Stakes, Smart Elissim failed on a heavy track in the Run To The Rose.
“We gave him a bit of a freshen up and he seems to have bounced through it alright.
“We’ve also nominated him for a 1400-metre race on Saturday just in case Wednesday’s track became a heavy 10, or something crazy like that.”