A shot at stakes grade will go on the line for consistent mare River Bird when she faces a serious test of her credentials against a talent-laden benchmark field at Randwick.
The Hyland Race Colours Handicap (1200m) does not hold black-type status but it is one of the more intriguing fields on Saturday’s program.
Group One placegetter Reloaded and promising four-year-old Royal Celebration both resume off lengthy breaks, taking on in-form gallopers Lashes and Embracer while stakes performers Laburnum and Dawn Dawn also feature.
Trainer Jason Coyle is not surprised by the depth in the field but he is confident River Bird can hold her own.
“There’s no hiding most of the year in Sydney, especially coming into a carnival,” Coyle said.
“Your benchmark races become Listed races, just without the black-type.
“It’s definitely the time of year the better horses are here and they have to step up to the mark and be tested.”
The winner of four of her 17 starts, River Bird proved she had returned in good order with a closing third to Embracer first-up over 1100 metres at Rosehill.
She got back to last from an outside gate but from barrier two on Saturday, she should be able to position closer.
“She went super. She gets a much softer draw this Saturday and she’ll appreciate the step up to 1200,” Coyle said.
“Given she races well, she might find herself in a nice mares stakes race in the coming weeks.”
River Bird is among three runners for Coyle, who also welcomes back classy mare White Moss in the Group Two Expressway Stakes (1200m).
Insensata returns from a flying visit to Melbourne where she finished fifth in the Listed Chester Manifold Stakes and Coyle says the backmarker can feature in her 1500m-race if it is run to suit.