The Listed Kensington Stakes at Flemington is shaping as a small but select field with the eight nominations headlined by Group One-winning colt Microphone and Group Two winner Time To Reign.
Nominations for Saturday’s 1000m straight-track sprint have been extended until Tuesday, with the entries also featuring another three-year-old colt taking on older horses, Group Three winner Sartorial Splendor.
Five-year-old All Too Royal, last-start winner of the Listed Christmas Stakes at Caulfield, and Standish Handicap runner-up Bold Star are among the entries.
Last year’s Group One ATC Sires’ Produce Stakes winner Microphone continued preparations towards his first start of 2020 when he won a jump-out at Flemington over 800m last Friday.
The Gary Portelli-trained Time To Reign, a half-brother to 2017 Golden Slipper winner She Will Reign, had his spring campaign aborted when he failed to recover from a virus as quickly as hoped.
Time To Reign, who won the Silver Slipper as an autumn two-year-old and was fifth in the Golden Slipper, has had two barrier trials in NSW in the past month highlighted by a 9-1/2-length win over 804m on his home track at Warwick Farm on January 2.
“I’ve been up at the Magic Millions but all reports are everything is in order,” Portelli said.
“He will gallop tomorrow morning.
“Obviously he is taking on older horses and that is always tough.”
Adelaide trainer Gordon Richards plans to bring four-year-old gelding Bold Star across to Flemington where the sprinter has had his past two starts.
Bold Star won a benchmark race over the straight 1000m on December 21 before his second to Halvorsen in the Group Three Standish Handicap (1200m) on January 1.
Richards believes things did not pan out for Bold Star after the field split into two divisions down the straight in the Standish, with Bold Star the first horse home from those who on the outside.
“He needs a bit of pace on and he was looking to hit the front too far out in the Standish,” Richards said.
“When he’s not chasing he’s generally in a bit of trouble and that’s how it worked out. The speed was over on the rails and it just didn’t suit him.
“It might have just been the fact it was 1200 metres, but back to 1000 metres there should be plenty of pace on, I would think.”