In-form Stokes pair to clash at Caulfield

Race programming has forced Phillip Stokes to run stablemates Daqiansweet Junior and Lyrical Lad in the same race at Caulfield as the pair chase winning hat-tricks.

Daqiansweet Junior and Lyrical Lad meet in the Take It To The Neds Level Handicap (2000m) on Sunday, an unfortunate clash for two in-form horses.

“They’re both very nice horses and it’s a pity they have to race against each other,” Stokes said.

After doing his early racing in New Zealand with Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman, Daqiansweet Junior joined Stokes for the start of his current campaign which commenced at Moe in October.

After one more start at Bendigo over 1600m in October, Daqiansweet Junior broke through for his maiden Australian win at Pakenham over 1600m on November 25 before stepping up to 2040m at The Valley on December 10 to score another narrow win.

Stokes hopes at some stage Daqiansweet Junior will develop into a Cups contender, but at this stage is content to let him race through his grades.

“He’s a lovely horse and has taken really good improvement from that win at The Valley,” Stokes said.

“We’ll keep placing him at the moment, but he may turn out to be a Cups horse in time and the Mornington Cup could be something worth considering if his form warranted it.”

Lyrical Lad is a four-time winner from nine starts and has been a revelation for Stokes.

He scored by five lengths on heavy ground at Cranbourne before winning by 1-¼ lengths at Pakenham on December 4 at his latest outing.

Sunday’s outing will be Lyrical Lad’s first at 2000m.

“We might as well find out now,” Stokes said.

“He’s had a couple of goes at the mile and been very strong. His pedigree says yes, but until we see him do it, we don’t know.

“The horse couldn’t be going any better. He’s raced on good tracks, heavy 10’s and he’s going super.”

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