Following the scratching of talented hopeful Diametric on Thursday, only 10 runners will take their places at the gates for the 2014 Group 2 Ajax Stakes (1500m) at Rosehill Gardens this weekend and is shaping as one of the most hotly-contested races of the day.
Having returned to the track in scintillating for this preparation, exciting four-year-old Ecuador has secured outright favouritism in betting markets for the 2014 Ajax Stakes at a current quote of $3.20, ahead of Messene ($3.50), Mouro and Weary; sharing the third line of betting at $7 odds.
Can Ecuador justify his favouritism amongst punters and win the 2014 Ajax Stakes, or will one of his classy opponents finish in the clear?
Finishing outside the places on only one occasion in eleven race starts so far, Ecuador has undeniably been one of the formed runners over the short 2014 season so far, claiming a comfortably victory in the TAB Rewards Maiden (1400m) first-up before producing a strong turn of foot to sneak home ahead of Almighty Charge in the Australian Turf Club Maiden (1400m) last time out. Trainer Gai Waterhouse has an understandably high opinion of the High Chaparral gelding, and is expecting a win in the Ajax Stakes this weekend to translate into an appearance in the Group 1 Doncaster Mile (1600m) in April.
Talented gelding Messene is currently in a six race winning streak, which now incredibly stretches back to March 2013. Comfortably overcoming a talented field in the Listed John McGrath National Sprint (1400m) first-up on March 9th, the talented son of Lonhro is more than capable of continuing his amazing run of form in the Ajax Stakes this weekend, despite drawing the somewhat awkward barrier 9.
Riva De Lago ($26)
While yet to hit peak condition in 2014, Riva De Lago represents incredible value to punters at his current odds of $26. Winner of the Group 2 Theo Marks Stakes (1400m) ahead of a particularly classy field that included Group 1 winner Solzhenitsyn last preparation, the Encosta De Lago gelding has been disappointing in two race starts so far this preparation, but will line up for the Ajax Stakes as one of the most experienced runners, with the class to produce a sharp turn in form this weekend.
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