Star New Zealand filly Probabeel will not take on older horses in the Coolmore Classic but will instead renew her rivalry with Funstar in a Group Two race at Rosehill.
Probabeel had been posted favourite for Saturday’s Group One Coolmore Classic (1500m) for fillies and mares but will stick to her own age in the Group Two Phar Lap Stakes for three-year-olds over the same distance.
With Opie Bosson riding stablemate Melody Belle in the All-Star Mile at Caulfield. Kerrin McEvoy takes the ride on the Jamie Richards-trained Probabeel who beat Funstar in the Group One Surround Stakes last Saturday week.
That result reversed the placings from the Flight Stakes in spring but markets have Funstar favourite to bounce back on Saturday.
Probabeel’s defection to the Phar Lap leaves the John Thompson-trained Sweet Deal as favourite for the Coolmore.
The mare was caught on the line by Dawn Dawn when a short half head second in the Group Two Guy Walter Stakes on February 29.
Hong Kong-based Blake Shinn replaced the suspended Nash Rawiller that day but the latter will be reunited with the mare on Saturday.
“She got softened up last start. Nash rode her this morning and he was happy with her gallop,” Thompson said.
Thompson said Sweet Deal was not necessarily happy on rain-affected ground which she is likely to get and her first-up Triscay Stakes win on soft ground showed her class.
“She doesn’t like it wet but she did win on it first-up,” he said.
“She has just gone to a new level. She is a much stronger mare now.”
Sweet Deal has 57.5kg in the Coolmore, half a kilo less than topweight Invincible Gem.
Trained by Kris Lees, Invincible Gem heads a quartet for the stable and will be joined by 2019 runner-up El Dorado Dreaming, last Friday’s Newcastle Newmarket second Delectation Girl and Miss Fabulass.
Lees’ father, the late Max Lees, holds the training record for the Coolmore with five winners while Kris is looking for his first.
His best results have been a third with Danish Twist in 2017 and second and third last year with El Dorado Dreaming and Princess Posh.
“All four mares are in good order,” Lees said.