Ecstatic ITC gets Classic numbers

HORSE RACING

The  Illawarra Turf Club has described their reaction as "ecstatic" to a bumper 32 entries for the Keith Nolan Classic (1600m), but face a nervous wait as connections eye off a raft of features across the country.

The pumped-up prizemoney on offer for the Sensational Sunday headline act certainly had the desired effect when 32 nominations were received on Tuesday - a huge increase on the neat dozen in 2012. This year's Group 3 race carries a total prize purse of $200,000.

But it's a possibility many horses heading to other stakes races across the eastern seaboard on Friday night and Saturday will disaffect the eventual Keith Nolan field.

Chris Waller has five runners among the Keith Nolan entries - with four - All Cerise, Chateau Lafaite, Define and Marmelo - in the mix for Saturday's Group 2 Phar Lap Stakes (1500m) at Rosehill.

John O'Shea has Moonee Valley Classic winner Gypsy Diamond eyeing off a challenge against the older mares in the Coolmore Classic (1500m), as well as against her own age in the Phar Lap Stakes.

Kris Lees is also leaning towards starting Lucia Valentina in the Coolmore Classic, while Peter Moody has Metaphorical and Sensibility also nominated elsewhere.

Victorian trainer Mick Kent is tending towards keeping Kewney Stakes runner-up Marianne and stablemate Written in Melbourne for contrasting assignments over the weekend.

"I'll pay up for both of them here with Marianne on Friday night and Written on Saturday," Kent said.

"Unless the field looks terrible then I might change, but that's the way I'm leaning at the moment."

It's done nothing to deter the enthusiasm of the ITC, who have lobbied hard to make their flagship race for fillies a stronger one.

What won't be lacking is quality, with Victoria Oaks runner-up Zanbagh, stakes winner Arabian Gold and Canberra Guineas heroine Interspersed all confirmed.

"We're ecstatic and we're happy with the noms for the Bert Lillye [Memorial] as well," ITC chief executive Peter De Vries said.

"There's an awful lot of them in the Coolmore and in the Phar Lap and both of those cater for a field of 20. I think what will happen is a lot of those will accept for the Coolmore and for the Nolan and if they get a bad barrier in the Coolmore they'll go come down here."

Final fields for Kembla's Sensational Sunday card will be declared on Thursday.

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