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17/01/02 Challenge Stakes Field a Disgrace
With a field possessing more milk drinkers than chaff chompers, Saturday's $151,400 Challenge Stakes at Warwick Farm would be better sponsored by dairy group Pura Milk than beer maker San Miguel.

Disappointing wouldn't be the right word for the final field of ten which was scrambled together, after only a handful of first entries were received on Monday.

Instead of finding more than capable metropolitan open class performers some of the state's slowest and most ungenuine horses have been recruited by the AJC to fill up the unclassy field.

While the field does boast one the sprinting finds of the Melbourne spring carnival, Mistegic, it also has one of the state's most unaccomplished horses Supera.

For a horse to be given a berth in a Group Two feature event anywhere in Australia, that has started on two occasions outside of the metropolitan area and never been close to earning prizemoney is a disgrace.

While New South Wales battles hard against small fields and race programming, by letting horses in a Group Two field that would have trouble earning money at the Tocumwal race meeting is not the way to go.

Although the Challenge Stakes and the Cox Plate are at different ends of the racing scale, the AJC must take the lead of the Moonee Valley Racing Club (MVRC) and limit their feature race fields to accomplished performers.

Last October the MVRC threw Weasel Will (a Group Two winner) out of the Cox Plate, thus giving them only eight runners in the weight-for-age race.

Surely the AJC should have done the same and thrown out four of the ten runners.

I for one would rather see six atleast partly accomplished runners racing for the Challenge and not have the risk of striking interference from one of the "cats."

While I don't want the owners of Minnie Me, Shaanxi, Punch Drunk and Supera, to take this personally the fact these horses are racing against the likes of Mistegic and Bomber Bill in a Group Two leaves me scratching my head.

Minnie Me, the winner of four races, is first up since a let up. At her most recent start she failed to beat a runner home in a mares race at Flemington on Melbourne Cup Day. In fact Minnie Me hasn't earned prizemoney since a third at Hawkesbury four runs ago.

Shaanxi, a mare by Yallah Prince, has run disgracefully at her two most recent starts at Rosehill and Wyong. She will be first up on Saturday and has placed at both other first up attempts - but they weren't in Group Two class!

Orange trained galloper Punch Drunk would need her opponents to be if she was to figure in the finish. The four-year-old mare did place at Rosehill last start, but she is best back at Orange.

And then there's Supera. Well what can I say? Oh look I have just discovered she has won a trial at Warwick Farm - ahhhh that must be the reason she is in the Challenge. Surely Bernadette Cooper should get a double riding fee for the potential embarassment she receives from the crowd when her mount is still racing when the next field lines up 40 minutes later.

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