AFTER having his bubble burst by Lankan Rupee at his last start, Sydney sprinter Deep Field will have the chance to bounce back in Saturday's $400,000 Group Two Challenge Stakes (1000m) at Royal Randwick.
The four-year-old - a winner of five of his six starts - is one of 15 nominations for the race which will give a pointer to the chances of him pressing on to the $2.5 million TJ Smith Stakes (1200m) to be contested at the same track on April 4.
Deep Field was a short-priced favourite for his return to the track in the Group One Lightning Stakes (1000m) at Flemington on February 21, but was no match for Lankan Rupee who showed he could be back to his best after winning just one of his previous four starts.
Chautauqua, Terravista and Lankan Rupee dominate the market for the TJ Smith, and Deep Field would probably need to win on Saturday to justify taking on that trio of world-class sprinters.
The son of ill-fated sire Northern Meteor is trained by Team Hawkes, who have also nominated last year's Golden slipper winner Mossfun for the Challenge Stakes.
The filly has raced just once since taking out the Slipper, finishing sixth in the Group Two Light Fingers Stakes (1200m) at Randwick on February 14.
She should be improved by the effort, however, after her Melbourne Spring Carnival campaign was abandoned when she picked up a virus.
One of the top chances in the Challenge Stakes should be talented Sydney three-year-old Rubick.
Trained by Gerald Ryan, the colt blotted his copybook when a distant 12th to Brazen Beau in the Group One Coolmore Stud Stakes (1200m) at Flemington on Derby Day last year.
Rubick, who took out the Group Two Schillaci Stakes (1000m) at Caulfield on October 11 when resuming last campaign, was slowly away before finishing a close second to top mare Sweet Idea in an 800m trial at Randwick last month
Miracles Of Life was an eye-catching third in the trial and is also nominated for the Challenge Stakes.
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